Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy Beneficial for Pain Relief

EAET superior to cognitive behavioral therapy for racial and ethnically diverse older veterans with chronic pain
black man depression pain
Adobe Stoc
Medically Reviewed By:
Mark Arredondo, M.D.

MONDAY, June 17, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- For older patients with at least three months of musculoskeletal pain, emotional awareness and expression therapy (EAET) may be a more effective treatment than cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), according to a study published online June 13 in JAMA Network Open.

Brandon C. Yarns, M.D., from the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, and colleagues examined whether EAET is superior to CBT for treatment of chronic pain among predominantly male older veterans in a two-arm randomized clinical trial. A racially and ethnically diverse group of veterans aged 60 to 95 years with at least three months of musculoskeletal pain was randomly assigned to receive EAET or CBT (66 and 60 participants, respectively).

The researchers found that for the primary outcome of reduction in pain severity at posttreatment and follow-up, EAET was superior to CBT (estimate, −1.59 and −1.01, respectively). At posttreatment, a clinically significant (at least 30 percent) pain reduction occurred in more participants receiving EAET than CBT (63 versus 17 percent; odds ratio, 21.54). Furthermore, at posttreatment, EAET was found to be superior for 50 percent pain reduction (35 versus 7 percent; odds ratio, 11.77), anxiety, depression, general life satisfaction, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, Patient Global Impression of Change score, and global treatment satisfaction. Greater reduction in pain severity after EAET, but not CBT, was moderated by higher baseline depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms.

"EAET is a preferred intervention for medically and psychiatrically complex older patients with pain," the authors write. "The societal burden of chronic pain may be eased by further incorporating EAET principles into mainstream clinical pain medicine."

One author disclosed financial ties to Cognifisense; a second author disclosed ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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