OBJECTIVES: This study evaluated the feasibility, acceptability, and potential effectiveness of a hybrid skills-based group intervention, dialectical pain management (DPM), for adults with chronic pain who are receiving long-term opioid therapy. DPM adapts dialectical behavior therapy, a rigorous psychotherapeutic approach to emotion dysregulation, to treat disorders of physiological dysregulation.
METHODS: Individuals with chronic pain (N = 17) participated in one of two 8-week DPM intervention cohorts. At pre-test and post-test, participants completed quantitative self-report assessments measuring pain intensity and interference, depressive symptoms, pain acceptance, beliefs about pain medications, and global rating of change. Within 2 weeks after the intervention, participants completed qualitative interviews to assess participant satisfaction and obtain feedback about specific intervention components.
RESULTS: Of the 17 enrolled, 15 participants completed the group with 12 (70%) attending six or more sessions. Participants reported high satisfaction with the intervention. Preliminary findings suggested a significant increase in pain acceptance and a significant reduction in depressive symptoms. Participants also reported an improved relationship with their pain conditions and increased flexibility in responding to pain and applying coping skills. Several participants showed a reduction in opioid dosage over the course of the intervention.
DISCUSSION: Findings support that DPM is a feasible and well-received intervention for individuals with chronic pain. Additional research with a control group is needed to further determine the intervention's efficacy and impact.