Telephone-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy for veterans with chronic pain following traumatic brain injury: Rationale and study protocol for a randomized controlled trial study

Contemp Clin Trials. 2019 Jan;76:112-119. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2018.12.004. Epub 2018 Dec 13.


Background and objectives: Chronic pain is a highly prevalent and potentially disabling condition in Veterans who have had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and access to non-pharmacological pain treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy is limited and variable. The purpose of this randomized controlled trial (RCT) is to evaluate the efficacy of a telephone-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (T-CBT) for pain in Veterans with a history of TBI.

Methods: Veterans with a history of TBI and chronic pain of at least six months duration (N = 160) will be randomized to either T-CBT or a telephone-delivered pain psychoeducational active control condition (T-Ed). The eight-week T-CBT intervention builds on other efficacious CBT interventions for chronic pain in the general population but is novel in that it is conducted via telephone and adapted for Veterans with a history of TBI. Outcome variables will be collected pre, mid-, and post-treatment, and 6 months following randomization (follow-up).

Projected outcomes: In addition to evaluating the effects of the interventions on pain intensity (primary outcome), this study will determine their effects on pain interference, sleep, depression, and life satisfaction. We will also examine potential moderators of treatment outcomes such as cognition, PTSD, and alcohol and drug use. This non-pharmacologic one-on-one therapeutic intervention has the potential to reduce pain and pain-related dysfunction, improve access to care, and reduce barriers associated with geography, finances, and stigma, without the negative effects on physical and cognitive performance and potential for addiction as seen with some pharmacologic treatments for pain. This trial is registered at, protocol NCT01768650.

Keywords: Chronic pain; Cognitive behavioral therapy, CBT; Pain interventions; Traumatic brain injury, TBI.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / epidemiology*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cognition
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement
  • Personal Satisfaction
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / epidemiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Telemedicine
  • Telephone*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans*

Associated data