A combination of psychoeducation, cognitive-based therapy, visualization, and breathing exercises may represent a tolerable and readily accepted complementary therapeutic approach for adolescent patients with chronic pain, according to a study published in the Journal of Pediatric Psychology.

Researchers administered self-reported questionnaires to adolescent patients with chronic pain (n=102) and their mothers (n=105) after patients underwent a treatment consisting of motivational interviewing, cognitive-based behavioral therapy, and biofeedback. In addition, parents received psychoeducation on adolescent pain and on communicating with the child experiencing chronic pain. The program was referred to as “The Comfort Ability Pain Management Workshop.”

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Overall, the workshop was considered feasible and highly acceptable by patients and parents alike. After 1 month of workshop implementation, patients with chronic pain reported improved functionality (P =.0012), reduced depression symptoms (P <.0001), and improved pain catastrophizing (P <.0001), compared with baseline levels. The workshop also resulted in many parents modifying their parenting practices (P <.01) and their beliefs regarding their child’s ability to manage pain (P <.001) at 1-week posttreatment.

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This study is limited by its lack of a comparison or control group. In addition, the investigators note that the overall effect sizes of patient and parent changes after intervention were small and may not be clinically meaningful.

In addition to the workshop intervention components, the investigators comment that “extended multidisciplinary treatments [are] needed to achieve more substantial and significant pain reduction” because of the complexity of chronic pain and its individual variability.

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Coakley R, Wihak T, Kossowsky J, Iversen C, Donado C. The comfort ability pain management workshop: a preliminary, nonrandomized investigation of a brief, cognitive, biobehavioral, and parent training intervention for pediatric chronic pain [published online September 18, 2017]. J Pediatr Psychol. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsx112