Psychological treatment for atypical non-cardiac chest pain: a controlled evaluation

Psychol Med. 1990 Aug;20(3):605-11. doi: 10.1017/s0033291700017116.


Thirty-one patients with atypical non-cardiac chest pain which had persisted despite negative medical investigation were treated in a controlled trial of cognitive-behavioural therapy. The average duration of pain was 4.7 years. Patients were randomized to either immediate treatment or as a control to assessment only. Treatment involved teaching patients how to anticipate and control symptoms, and modification of inappropriate health beliefs. The average number of sessions given was 7.2. There were significant reductions in chest pain. limitations and disruption of daily life, autonomic symptoms, distress and psychological morbidity in the treated group as compared with the control group who were unchanged. The assessment-only group were treated subsequently and showed comparable changes. Improvements were fully maintained by both treated groups at four- to six-months follow-up.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Chest Pain / psychology
  • Chest Pain / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neurocirculatory Asthenia / psychology
  • Neurocirculatory Asthenia / therapy*
  • Personality Assessment
  • Sick Role