Mindful self-compassion program for chronic pain patients: A randomized controlled trial

Author: M Torrijos-Zarcero1,2, R Mediavilla2, B Rodríguez-Vega1,2,3, M Del Río-Diéguez3, I López-Álvarez1,2, C Rocamora-González1,2, A Palao-Tarrero1,2,3
1 Clinical Psychology and Mental Health Department, La Paz University Hospital, Madrid, Spain.
2 La Paz Hospital Institute for Health Research (IdiPAZ), Madrid, Spain.
3 Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), Madrid, Spain.
Conference/Journal: Eur J Pain
Date published: 2021 Jan 20
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1002/ejp.1734. , Word Count: 239

Although evidence-based psychological treatments for chronic pain have been demonstrated to be effective for a variety of outcomes, modest effects observed in recent reviews indicate scope for improvement. Self-compassion promotes a proactive attitude towards self-care and actively seeking relief from suffering. Consequently, more compassionate people experience better physical, psychological, and interpersonal wellbeing.

We conducted a single-blind, randomized, controlled trial to examine the effects of a Mindful Self-Compassion program (MSC) on relevant clinical outcomes in patients with chronic pain. Patients were randomly assigned to one of the two intervention arms: MSC or Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The protocols of both intervention arms were standardized and consisted of a 150-minute session once every 8 weeks formatted to groups of no more than 20 participants. The primary outcome was self-compassion, measured with the self-compassion scale (SCS). The secondary outcomes were other pain-related scores, quality-of-life measures, and anxiety and depression scores.

Sixty-two and sixty-one patients were assigned to the MSC and CBT group, respectively. The MSC intervention was more effective than CBT for self-compassion (ATE = 0.126, p < 0.05). The secondary outcomes, pain acceptance (ATE = 5.214, p < 0.01), pain interference (ATE = -0.393, p < 0.05), catastrophizing (ATE = -2.139, p < 0.10), and anxiety (ATE = -0.902, p < 0.05), were also favored in the experimental arm (MSC). No serious adverse events were observed.

MSC is an appropriate therapeutic approach for chronic pain patients and may result in greater benefits on self-compassion and emotional well-being than CBT.

PMID: 33471404 DOI: 10.1002/ejp.1734