Cognitive-behavioral therapy for individuals with chronic pain: efficacy, innovations, and directions for research

Am Psychol. 2014 Feb-Mar;69(2):153-66. doi: 10.1037/a0035747.


Over the past three decades, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has become a first-line psychosocial treatment for individuals with chronic pain. Evidence for efficacy in improving pain and pain-related problems across a wide spectrum of chronic pain syndromes has come from multiple randomized controlled trials. CBT has been tailored to, and found beneficial for, special populations with chronic pain, including children and older adults. Innovations in CBT delivery formats (e.g., Web-based, telephone-delivered) and treatments based on CBT principles that are delivered by health professionals other than psychologists show promise for chronic pain problems. This article reviews (a) the evidence base for CBT as applied to chronic pain, (b) recent innovations in target populations and delivery methods that expand the application of CBT to underserved populations, (c) current limitations and knowledge gaps, and (d) promising directions for improving CBT efficacy and access for people living with chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / methods
  • Humans
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Treatment Outcome