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Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain in veterans: Evidence for clinical effectiveness in a model program.

Murphy JL, Cordova MJ, Dedert EA. Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain in veterans: Evidence for clinical effectiveness in a model program. Psychological Services. 2022 Feb 1; 19(1):95-102.

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been training clinicians in its cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain (CBT-CP) structured protocol since 2012. The aim of this project was to review patient outcomes to determine the effectiveness of the VA's CBT-CP treatment. From 2012-2018, 1,331 Veterans initiated individual CBT-CP treatment as part of the training program. Patient outcomes were assessed with measures of patient-reported pain intensity, pain catastrophizing, depression, pain interference, and quality of life (physical, psychological, social, and environmental). Mixed models of the effects of time indicated significant changes across pretreatment, midtreatment, and treatment conclusion on all outcomes. There was a large effect size (Cohen's d = 0.78) for pain catastrophizing, and there were medium to large effect sizes ( > 0.60) for worst pain intensity, pain interference, depression, and physical quality of life. Systematic training of therapists and implementation of the VA's CBT-CP protocol yielded significant patient improvements across multiple domains. This offers strong support for the VA's CBT-CP as an effective, safe treatment for Veterans with chronic pain and highlights it as a model to increase the availability of training in standardized, pain-focused, evidence-based, behavioral interventions. The findings suggest that the broad dissemination of such training, including in routine, nonpain specialty settings, would improve patient access to effective, nonpharmacological treatment options in both the public and private sectors. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).

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