Psychological interventions influence patients' attitudes and beliefs about their chronic pain

J Tradit Complement Med. 2017 May 11;8(2):296-302. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.09.001. eCollection 2018 Apr.


Background: Patients' changing attitudes and beliefs about pain are considered as improvements in the treatment of chronic pain. Multidisciplinary approaches to pain allow modifications of coping strategies of patients, from passive to active.

Methods: We investigate how two therapeutic treatments impact patients' attitudes and beliefs regarding pain, as measured with the Survey of Pain Attitudes (SOPA). We allocated 415 patients with chronic pain either to psychoeducation combined with physiotherapy, self-hypnosis combined with self-care learning, or to control groups. Pain intensity, global impression of change, and beliefs and attitudes regarding pain were assessed before and after treatment.

Results: Our main results showed a significant effect of psychoeducation/physiotherapy on control, harm, and medical cure SOPA subscales; and a significant effect of self-hypnosis/self-care on control, disability and medical cure subscales. Correlation results showed that pain perception was negatively associated with control, while positively associated with disability, and a belief that hurt signifies harm. Patients' impression of improvement was associated with greater control, lower disability, and lower belief that hurt signifies harm.

Conclusions: The present study showed that self-hypnosis/self-care and psychoeducation/physiotherapy were associated with patients' evolution of coping strategies from passive to active, allowing them to reduce pain perception and improve their global impression of treatment effectiveness.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Coping; Hypnosis; Pain beliefs; Psychoeducation.