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Addressing chronic pain with Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in integrated primary care: findings from a mixed methods pilot randomized controlled trial.

Kanzler KE, Robinson PJ, McGeary DD, Mintz J, Kilpela LS, Finley EP, McGeary C, Lopez EJ, Velligan D, Munante M, Tsevat J, Houston B, Mathias CW, Potter JS, Pugh J. Addressing chronic pain with Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in integrated primary care: findings from a mixed methods pilot randomized controlled trial. BMC primary care. 2022 Apr 14; 23(1):77.

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BACKGROUND: Over 100 million Americans have chronic pain and most obtain their treatment in primary care clinics. However, evidence-based behavioral treatments targeting pain-related disability are not typically provided in these settings. Therefore, this study sought to: 1) evaluate implementation of a brief evidence-based treatment, Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (FACT-CP), delivered by an integrated behavioral health consultant (BHC) in primary care; and 2) preliminarily explore primary (self-reported physical disability) and secondary treatment outcomes (chronic pain acceptance and engagement in valued activities). METHODS: This mixed-methods pilot randomized controlled trial included twenty-six participants with non-cancer chronic pain being treated in primary care (54% women; 46% Hispanic/Latino). Active participants completed a 30-min individual FACT-CP visit followed by 3 weekly 60-min group visits and a booster visit 2 months later. An enhanced treatment as usual (ETAU) control group received 4 handouts about pain management based in cognitive-behavioral science. Follow-up research visits occurred during and after treatment, at 12 weeks (booster visit), and at 6 months. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to collect qualitative data after the last research visit. General linear mixed regression models with repeated measures explored primary and secondary outcomes. RESULTS: The study design and FACT-CP intervention were feasible and acceptable. Quantitative analyses indicate at 6-month follow-up, self-reported physical disability significantly improved pre-post within the FACT-CP arm (d = 0.64); engagement in valued activities significantly improved within both the FACT-CP (d = 0.70) and ETAU arms (d = 0.51); and chronic pain acceptance was the only outcome significantly different between arms (d = 1.04), increased in the FACT-CP arm and decreased in the ETAU arm. Qualitative data analyses reflected that FACT-CP participants reported acquiring skills for learning to live with pain, consistent with increased chronic pain acceptance. CONCLUSION: Findings support that FACT-CP was acceptable for patients with chronic pain and feasible for delivery in a primary care setting by a BHC. Results provide preliminary evidence for improved physical functioning after FACT-CP treatment. A larger pragmatic trial is warranted, with a design based on data gathered in this pilot. TRIAL REGISTRATION:, NCT04978961 (27/07/2021).

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