Single-Session Pain Class Can Benefit Patients with Chronic Low-Back Pain for Six Months


A study conducted by Stanford University, with partial funding from the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, reveals that a single two-hour class on pain relief skills significantly reduces pain catastrophizing, intensity, and bothersomeness in individuals suffering from chronic low-back pain up to six months post-session.

The findings, published in Pain Reports, indicated that the class was as effective as an eight-session cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) program. These results build upon earlier results observed at the three-month mark, suggesting that the class had enduring impacts with no significant decline in benefits from three to six months.

According to the study, CBT is often recommended as a primary approach for managing back pain aimed at addressing various symptoms. However, the requirement for multiple sessions with trained professionals poses challenges for both healthcare delivery systems and patient participation. The Empowered Relief program, assessed in this research, offers a more accessible alternative, comprising a concise 2-hour session that covers cognitive behavioral techniques, mindfulness, and education on pain neuroscience.

In the initial phase of the research, 263 adults with chronic low-back pain were randomly allocated to either Empowered Relief, a comprehensive 8-session (16 hours total) CBT group program, or a basic 2-hour class on back pain health education lacking in pain management training. Results after three months indicated that both Empowered Relief and CBT participants experienced meaningful reductions in pain catastrophizing and intensity, significantly outperforming the health education class.

Further analysis after six months showed that individuals in the Empowered Relief group not only retained but also enhanced the benefits gained at the three-month checkpoint, including reduced pain catastrophizing, bothersomeness, and anxiety, maintaining parity with CBT outcomes and surpassing the health education class.

These findings underscore the sustained effectiveness of Empowered Relief as a time-efficient and cost-effective behavioral treatment for pain management. Nonetheless, ongoing research aims to explore the variability in individual responses to Empowered Relief versus multi-session CBT, as well as the program's efficacy across different demographics and various chronic pain conditions.