Psychotherapeutic interventions for chronic pain: Evidence, rationale, and advantages

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© The Author(s) 2018. Background: Long-term use of opioids to treat chronic pain incurs serious risks for the individual—including misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose and death—as well as creating economic, social, and cultural impacts on society as a whole. Chronic pain and substance use disorders are often co-morbid with other medical problems and at the present time, primary care clinicians serve most of this population. Primary care clinicians would benefit from having alternatives to opioids to employ in treating such patients. Method: We electronically searched different medical databases for studies evaluating the effect of nonpharmacological treatments for chronic pain. We describe alternative approaches for the treatment of chronic pain and cite studies that provide substantial evidence in favor of the use of these treatments. Results: Cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness-based programs have well-documented effectiveness for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain. Integration of such behavioral health therapies into primary care settings may optimize health resources and improve treatment outcomes. Conclusion: Evidence-based psychotherapy for chronic pain has established efficacy and safety and improves quality of life and physical and emotional functioning. Such interventions may be used as an alternative or adjunct to pharmacological management. Chronic opioid use should be reserved for individuals undergoing active cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care.

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International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine





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