The purpose of the present pilot study was to explore the moderating role of basal inflammation on the effects of behavioral pain treatment in 41 patients with long-standing pain. Baseline pro-inflammatory status moderated behavioral treatment outcomes: higher pre-treatment levels of Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)-α and Interleukin (IL)-6 were related to less improvement in pain intensity, psychological inflexibility and in mental health-related quality of life. The treatment outcomes improved in the subgroup that had low levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines at baseline, while the subjects with higher pro-inflammatory status did not. Altogether, results indicate that low-grade inflammation may influence the behavioral treatment outcomes and provide a possible explanation of the heterogeneity in treatment response.
Keywords: Chronic low-grade inflammation; Chronic pain; Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT); Cytokines; Psychological inflexibility; Treatment responders.