Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Patients with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Patients with Breast Cancer with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness based interventions hold a great deal of promise for helping people with cancer cope across a broad range of symptoms and issues, both during and after the completion of active treatment.” – Jessica Pieczynski

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. But cancer diagnosis is not necessarily a death sentence. Over half of the people diagnosed with cancer are still alive 10 years later and this number is rapidly increasing. But, surviving cancer carries with it a number of problems. Anxiety, depression, fatigue and insomnia are common symptoms in the aftermath of surviving breast cancer. These symptoms markedly reduce the quality of life of the patients.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to help with cancer recovery and help to alleviate many of the residual physical and psychological symptoms, including stress,  sleep disturbance, and anxiety and depression. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. This suggests that ACT may be an effective treatment for women with breast cancer.

 

In today’s Research News article “Efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on depression, pain acceptance, and psychological flexibility in married women with breast cancer: a pre- and post-test clinical trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8317551/ ) Ghorbani and colleagues recruited married women with breast cancer who exhibited moderate levels of anxiety and depression and randomly assigned them to receive 8 weekly 90 minute sessions of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or to a wait list control condition. They were measured before and after ACT and 2 months later for perceived stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and acceptance and action.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group after Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) there were significant reductions in depression and significant increases in pain acceptance and flexibility. These improvements were maintained at the 2-month follow-up.

 

The study did not have an active control condition, rather employing a wait-list control. This leaves open the possibility of participant expectancy (placebo) effects or attentional (Hawthorne) effects explaining the results. In addition, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a complex therapy with several therapeutic components. It is unclear what components or combination of components are critical for the benefits. Nevertheless, the results demonstrate that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective in improving the psychological well-being of breast cancer patients. This could well translate into better recovery and health in these women.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of patients with breast cancer with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness-based stress reduction can be effective in alleviating anxiety and depression, decreasing long-term emotional and physical side effects of treatments and improving the quality of sleep in breast cancer patients.” –  BCRF

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Ghorbani, V., Zanjani, Z., Omidi, A., & Sarvizadeh, M. (2021). Efficacy of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on depression, pain acceptance, and psychological flexibility in married women with breast cancer: a pre- and post-test clinical trial. Trends in psychiatry and psychotherapy, 43(2), 126–133. https://doi.org/10.47626/2237-6089-2020-0022

 

Abstract

Objective:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Many of these patients suffer from multiple psychological symptoms. The present study aimed to investigate the impact of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) on depression, pain acceptance, and psychological flexibility in married women with breast cancer.

Methods:

The present study was a pre- and post-test clinical trial with intervention and control groups. The research population consisted of women with breast cancer referred to the Ayatollah Yasrebi and Shahid Beheshti Hospitals in Kashan in 2018. Through a purposive sampling method, 40 women were selected and randomly divided into two groups, namely, intervention (n = 20) and control (n = 20). The applied tools included the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire 8 (CPAQ-8), and Acceptance and Action Questionnaire – II (AAQ-II). Data were analyzed by SPSS 16 using descriptive statistics and analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Results:

The results showed that ACT treatment significantly reduced the mean scores of depression compared to the control group (F = 107.72, p < 0.001). The mean scores of pain acceptance (F = 9.58, p < 0.05) and psychological flexibility (F = 10.61, p < 0 .05) significantly increased in comparison with the control group.

Conclusion:

ACT can be considered as an effective therapeutic approach to reduce depression and increase pain acceptance and psychological flexibility in women with breast cancer. These changes appear to be due to improved acceptance of thoughts and feelings associated with cancer and increased psychological flexibility, which is the primary goal of ACT treatment.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8317551/

 

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Well-Being of Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

mindfulness instruction may help to ease the stress of parenting young children with autism.” – B. Grace Bullock

 

Providing care for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be particularly challenging. These children’s behavior is characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. These make it difficult to relate to the child and receive the kind of positive feelings that often help to support caregiving. The challenges of caring for a child with ASD require that the parent be able to deal with stress, to regulate their own emotions, and to be sensitive and attentive to their child. These skills are exactly those that are developed in mindfulness training. It improves the psychological and physiological responses to stress. It improves emotion regulation. And it improves the ability to maintain attention and focus in the face of high levels of distraction.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes. It is not known whether ACT can improve the psychological well-being of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. 

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effect of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Improving Psychological Well-Being in Parents of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7892587/ ) Marino and colleagues recruited families with children between the ages of 4-10 and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and randomly assigned them to receive 24 weekly 90-minute sessions of either Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) or positive parent training to teach behavioral management skills to the children. The parents were measured before and after training for psychological flexibility, their emotions, the severity of disruptive and non-compliant behaviors in the children, behavior congruent with values, mindfulness, parental distress, parent-child dysfunction, and difficult child measures.

 

They found that in comparison to baseline and the positive parent training group, the group that received either Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significantly greater improvements in psychological flexibility, their emotions, the severity of disruptive and non-compliant behaviors in the children, behavior congruent with values, mindfulness, and parental distress.

 

The results are exciting particularly because of the strength of the research design. The control condition was an alternative therapy that met similarly over a similar period of time. This controls for most sources of research confounding which greatly improves the strength of the conclusions. These results suggest that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a safe and effective treatment for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder improving the parent’s psychological well-being and also the children’s’ behavior.. One of the key differences between ACT and positive parent training is the training in mindfulness. This suggests that mindfulness may be the key training for the benefits to the parents.

 

So, improve the psychological well-being of parents of children with autism spectrum disorder with mindfulness.

 

mindfulness means that parents are developing more compassion for themselves instead of feeling like it’s the end of the world when they do yell. Instead, they can mindfully reflect, repair if needed, and try again.” Katy Oberle

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Marino, F., Failla, C., Chilà, P., Minutoli, R., Puglisi, A., Arnao, A. A., Pignolo, L., Presti, G., Pergolizzi, F., Moderato, P., Tartarisco, G., Ruta, L., Vagni, D., Cerasa, A., & Pioggia, G. (2021). The Effect of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Improving Psychological Well-Being in Parents of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Brain sciences, 11(7), 880. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11070880

 

Abstract

Background: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) has been demonstrated as effective in improving psychological well-being in several clinical domains, but there is no evidence regarding the parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Methods: In this randomized controlled trial, we evaluated the efficacy of the ACT matrix behavioral protocol in comparison to the Parent Training (PT) program, measuring several primary and secondary outcomes prior to and following treatments. Twelve parents were randomly and equally assigned to two demographically matched groups wherein individuals underwent 24 weekly meetings of ACT protocol (experimental group) or conventional PT (control group). Results: Parents enrolled in the ACT protocol demonstrated significant improvement in psychological flexibility, awareness states, personal values in everyday life, and parental stress, whereas reduced scores were elicited in parents’ perceptions of their child’s disruptive behaviors. Conclusions: The results of this randomized controlled trial, if repeated with a large number of subjects, could open the way to include ACT protocols in daily practice to support the development of new parenting skills.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8301771/

 

Improve the Symptoms of Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes with Mindfulness

Improve the Symptoms of Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Central sensitization, in short, is a hypersensitivity to stimuli from things that are not typically painful. . . Stress can heighten pain even more, so various forms of stress management may be recommended to patients. This may include practices such as yoga, mindfulness, or meditation.” – Southern Pain

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes such as fibromyalgia and Migraine headaches are particularly difficult to deal with as they have triggers that are not normally painful.

 

The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain. There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

The research on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for  Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes has been accumulating. So, it makes sense to pause and review what has been learned. In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes: A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8235706/ ) Galvez-Sánchez and colleagues review and summarize the published research evidence on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for  Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes. They identified 21 published studies that included a total of 1090 adult participants.

 

They report that 8 studies found that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) significantly improved the symptoms of fibromyalgia especially anxiety and depression and improved pain acceptance, self-efficacy, and psychological flexibility. Six studies found that ACT improved the patient’s acceptance of irritable bowel syndrome and the psychological distress produced by IBS. In 7 studies ACT was shown to significantly improve migraine pain and the affective distress resulting from the disease including anxiety and depression. These improvements were greater than those seen with pharmacological and psychoeducational interventions.

 

Mindfulness training has been shown to improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, irritable bower syndrome, and migraine headache. The finding from the currently published research studies of the effectiveness of the mindfulness training of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) suggests that it is similarly effective in treating the symptoms from Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes particularly the psychological distress produced by them and improve the patients’ health related quality of life.

 

So, improve the symptoms of Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes with mindfulness.

 

The goal of meditation is not to eliminate pain or anxiety, but rather to get patients to focus on breathing and relaxation techniques. . . to reverse some of the negative central sensitization that can occur with chronic pain.” – Mel Pohl

 

MCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Galvez-Sánchez, C. M., Montoro, C. I., Moreno-Padilla, M., Reyes Del Paso, G. A., & de la Coba, P. (2021). Effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in Central Pain Sensitization Syndromes: A Systematic Review. Journal of clinical medicine, 10(12), 2706. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm10122706

 

Abstract

Objectives: Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is considered by the American Psychological Association as an evidence-based treatment for a variety of disorders, including chronic pain. The main objective of the present systematic review was to determine the effectiveness of ACT in patients with central pain sensitization syndromes (CPSS). Methods: This systematic review was conducted according to the guidelines of the Cochrane Collaboration and PRISMA statements. The protocol was registered in advance in the Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO) international database. The selected articles were evaluated using the Cochrane risk of bias (ROB) assessment tool. The PubMed, Scopus, and Web of Science databases were searched. Results: The literature search identified 21 studies (including investigations of fibromyalgia syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraine) eligible for the systematic review. There were no studies regarding the effectiveness of ACT for chronic tension-type headache (CTTH), interstitial cystitis (IC), or temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The evaluation of ROB showed that 12 of the selected studies were of low quality, 5 were of moderate quality, and 4 were high quality. ACT reduces some clinical symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and pain. This positive effect of ACT might be mediated by pain acceptance, psychological flexibility, optimism, self-efficacy, or adherence to values. ACT showed better results in comparison to non-intervention (e.g., “waiting list”) conditions, as well as pharmacological and psychoeducational interventions. It is not entirely clear whether extended ACT treatments are more advantageous than briefer interventions. Conclusions: There are few studies about the effectiveness of ACT on CPSS. However, ACT seems to reduce subjective CPSS symptoms and improve the health-related quality of life of these patients. The absence of studies on the effectiveness of ACT in CTTH, IC, and TMD, indicate the pressing need for further ACT studies in these CPSS.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8235706/

Increase Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

Increase Positive Psychological States with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

state mindfulness was associated with positive experiences across the three outcomes: higher levels of autonomy, more intense and frequent pleasant affect, and less intense and less frequent unpleasant affect.” – Kirk Warren Brown

 

The primary focus of the majority of research on mindfulness has been on its ability to treat negative emotional states such as anxiety, depression, and perceived stress. As such, it has been found to be effective for a large array of medical and psychiatric conditions, either stand-alone or in combination with more traditional therapies. But mindfulness training has also been shown to improve health and well-being in healthy individuals. Indeed, it is possible that the effectiveness of mindfulness training in relieving mental and physical illness may result from its ability to improve positive psychological states. There is accumulating research. So, it makes sense to review and summarize what has been learned

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness-based positive psychology interventions: a systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344333/ ) Allen and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on positive psychological states. They identified 22 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research found that mindfulness-based interventions significantly increased eudaimonia, well-being, of children, adults, and couples. Mindfulness-based interventions were also found to significantly enhance hedonia, positive emotions (amusement, awe, contentment, joy, gratitude, hope, interest, love, and pride, collectively) and quality of life. They also report that mindfulness training produces significant increases in prosocial behavior, social competence, emotion regulation, flexibility, academic performance, delay of gratification, coping behavior, relaxation, self-compassion, and happiness.

 

Hence, the research published to date supports the conclusion that mindfulness-based interventions improve positive psychological states. So, these interventions are not only useful for the relief of negative psychological states in people who are suffering but can also enhance the psychological well-being of everyone.

 

So, increase positive psychological states with mindfulness.

 

 

mindfulness is a fundamental part of a broad program of psycho-spiritual development, aiming to help people reach ‘enlightenment’. . .  it may be conceived of as the superlative state of happiness, equanimity and freedom that a human being is capable of experiencing.” – Itai Ivtzan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Allen, J. G., Romate, J., & Rajkumar, E. (2021). Mindfulness-based positive psychology interventions: a systematic review. BMC psychology, 9(1), 116. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-021-00618-2

 

Abstract

Background

There are hundreds of mindfulness-based interventions in the form of structured and unstructured therapies, trainings, and meditation programs, mostly utilized in a clinical rather than a well-being perspective. The number of empirical studies on positive potentials of mindfulness is comparatively less, and their known status in academia is ambiguous. Hence, the current paper aimed to review the studies where mindfulness-based interventions had integrated positive psychology variables, in order to produce positive functioning.

Methods

Data were obtained from the databases of PubMed, Scopus, and PsycNet and manual search in Google Scholar. From the 3831 articles, irrelevant or inaccessible studies were eliminated, reducing the number of final articles chosen for review to 21. Interventions that contribute to enhancement of eudaimonia, hedonia, and other positive variables are discussed.

Results

Findings include the potential positive qualities of MBIs in producing specific positive outcomes within limited circumstances, and ascendancy of hedonia and other positive variables over eudaimonic enhancement.

Conclusion

In conclusion, exigency of modifications in the existing MBIs to bring about exclusively positive outcomes was identified, and observed the necessity of novel interventions for eudaimonic enhancement and elevation of hedonia in a comprehensive manner.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8344333/

Improve the Well-Being of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents with Mindfulness

Improve the Well-Being of Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“mindfulness-based parenting program can be an effective intervention for reducing the stress experienced by parents of children with special needs.” – Elizabeth J. Shaffer

 

There is a tremendous demand for caregiving in the US. It is estimated that over 65 million (29% of the adult population) provides care to someone who is ill, disabled, or aged, averaging 20 hours per week spent caring for their loved ones. Children with special health care needs include a variety of conditions from psychological such as anxiety disorders or depression to chronic conditions such as asthma or diabetes or chronic pain, to developmental issues such as autism. They place considerable burdens on their caregivers.  Mindfulness practice for caregivers has been shown to help them cope with the physical and psychological demands of caregiving.

 

A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

There has been accumulating research on the application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of children with special health care needs and their caregivers and there is a need to review and summarize the findings. In today’s Research News article “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345967/ ) Parmar and colleagues review, summarize, and perform a meta-analysis of the published research studies on the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for the treatment of children with special health care needs and their caregivers.

 

They identified 10 published research studies. They report that the published research finds that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) produces significant reductions in depression and perceived stress, and increases in psychological flexibility in the children. On the other hand, the parents did not show similar improvements except for a small improvement in psychological flexibility.

 

The published research, then, suggests that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is effective for children with special health care needs in reducing mental distress and increasing their flexibility in dealing with it.  ACT also produce small improvements in their caregivers. This suggests that ACT should be recommended to increase mindfulness in children with special health care needs to improve their psychological well-being.

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

cultivating a more mindful way of parenting is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. Parents experienced increased mindful awareness and improved psychological well-being, and they were more accepting of their children. Their children also had fewer behavior problems and enhanced positive interaction with their parents.” – Manika Petcharat

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Parmar, A., Esser, K., Barreira, L., Miller, D., Morinis, L., Chong, Y. Y., Smith, W., Major, N., Church, P., Cohen, E., & Orkin, J. (2021). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Children with Special Health Care Needs and Their Parents: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(15), 8205. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18158205

 

Abstract

Context: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is an emerging treatment for improving psychological well-being. Objective: To summarize research evaluating the effects of ACT on psychological well-being in children with special health care needs (SHCN) and their parents. Data Sources: An electronic literature search was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science, Ovid/EMBASE and PsycINFO (January 2000–April 2021). Study Selection: Included were studies that assessed ACT in children with SHCN (ages 0–17y) and/or parents of children with SHCN and had a comparator group. Data Extraction: Descriptive data were synthesized and presented in a tabular format, and data on relevant outcomes (e.g., depressive symptoms, stress, avoidance and fusion) were used in the meta-analyses to explore the effectiveness of ACT (administered independently with no other psychological therapy) compared to no treatment. Results: Ten studies were identified (child (7) and parent (3)). In children with SHCN, ACT was more effective than no treatment at helping depressive symptoms (standardized mean difference [SMD] = −4.27, 95% CI: −5.20, −3.34; p < 0.001) and avoidance and fusion (SMD = −1.64, 95% CI: −3.24, −0.03; p = 0.05), but not stress. In parents of children with SHCN, ACT may help psychological inflexibility (SMD = −0.77, 95% CI: −1.07, −0.47; p < 0.01). Limitations: There was considerable statistical heterogeneity in three of the six meta-analyses. Conclusions: There is some evidence that ACT may help with depressive symptoms in children with SHCN and psychological inflexibility in their parents. Research on the efficacy of ACT for a variety of children with SHCN and their parents is especially limited, and future research is needed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345967/

 

Improve Pain, Sleep, and the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Internet Mindfulness Training

Improve Pain, Sleep, and the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Internet Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In the context of chronic pain . . . meditation can help you to stop your mind wandering back to your pain when you are trying to focus on something else, therefore improving your ability to give your entire attention to the task at hand and in turn, improve your level of functioning. It gives you the power to take your mind off your pain and refocus it, therefore aiding you in replacing unhelpful, behaviours with healthy ones which can reduce your pain and allow you to take better care of your health.” – Ann-Marie D’arcy-Sharpe

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) requires a scheduled program of sessions with a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy as microlearning for chronic pain: A randomized controlled trial with 1‐year follow‐up.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1723 ) Rickardsson and colleagues recruited adult chronic pain patients and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive an 8-week program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered over the internet. ACT was delivered in daily microlearning short learning interactions. There was a 74% completion rate of the modules. The participants were measured before and after training and at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups for psychiatric problems, pain interference, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, values, and health-related quality of life.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group that received internet-delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significant decreases in pain interference, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, value obstruction, and insomnia. These improvements were long-lasting as they were maintained at the 12-month follow-up.

 

These are impressive improvements in the pain and psychological health of these diverse chronic pain patients. These results correspond with the frequent prior observations that mindfulness training produces reductions in pain, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, and insomnia in a wide range of patient types and normal individuals. These results are particularly impressive as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was delivered over the internet. in daily microlearning short learning interactions. This was very convenient for the patients and required only 12.4 minutes per week of therapist time per week and was thus very inexpensive to deliver. Yet ACT was highly effective and lasting in relieving the suffering of these chronic pain patients.

 

So, improve pain, sleep, and the mental health of chronic pain patients with internet mindfulness training.

 

What we want to do as best as we can is to engage with the pain just as it is. It’s not about achieving a certain goal – like minimizing pain – but learning to relate to your pain differently.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jenny Rickardsson, Charlotte Gentili, Linda Holmström, Vendela Zetterqvist, Erik Andersson, Jan Persson, Mats Lekander, Brjánn Ljótsson, Rikard K. Wicksell. Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy as microlearning for chronic pain: A randomized controlled trial with 1‐year follow‐up, European Journal of Pain, 2021;00:1–19, https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.1723

 

Abstract

Background

Studies of Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for chronic pain have shown small to moderate positive effects for pain interference and pain acceptance. Effects on pain intensity, depression, anxiety and quality of life (QoL) have been less favourable, and improvements for values and sleep are lacking. In this randomized controlled trial iACT – a novel format of Internet‐ACT using daily microlearning exercises – was examined for efficacy compared to a waitlist condition.

Methods

Adult participants (mean age 49.5 years, pain duration 18.1 years) with diverse chronic pain conditions were recruited via self‐referral, and randomized to iACT (n = 57) or waitlist (n = 56). The primary outcome was pain interference. The secondary outcomes were QoL, depression, anxiety, insomnia and pain intensity. The process variables included psychological inflexibility and values. Post‐assessments were completed by 88% (n = 100) of participants. Twelve‐month follow‐up assessments were completed by 65% (iACT only, n = 37). Treatment efficacy was analysed using linear mixed models and an intention‐to‐treat‐approach.

Results

Significant improvements in favour of iACT were seen for pain interference, depression, anxiety, pain intensity and insomnia, as well as process variables psychological inflexibility and values. Between‐group effect sizes were large for pain interference (d = 0.99) and pain intensity (d = 1.2), moderate for anxiety and depressive symptoms and small for QoL and insomnia. For the process variables, the between‐group effect size was large for psychological inflexibility (d = 1.0) and moderate for values. All improvements were maintained at 1‐year follow‐up.

Conclusions

Internet‐ACT as microlearning may improve a broad range of outcomes in chronic pain.

Significance

The study evaluates a novel behavioral treatment with positive results on pain interference, mood as well as pain intensity for longtime chronic pain sufferers. The innovative format of a digital ACT intervention delivered in short and experiential daily learnings may be a promising way forward.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1723

 

Increase Psychological Flexibility and Thereby Relieve Anxiety and Depression with Psychedelic Drugs

Increase Psychological Flexibility and Thereby Relieve Anxiety and Depression with Psychedelic Drugs

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“psilocybin may be effective in the much wider population of patients who suffer from major depression than previously appreciated. The magnitude of the effect we saw was about four times larger than what clinical trials have shown for traditional antidepressants on the market,” – Alan Davis

 

Psychedelic substances have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. People find these experiences very pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever. But only very recently have these effects of psychedelic substances come under rigorous scientific scrutiny.

 

When studied in the laboratory under double blind conditions psychedelic substances have been shown to “reliably occasion deeply personally meaningful and often spiritually significant experiences (e.g. mystical-type experiences).” Psychedelic substances have also been shown to improve clinical depression. The case seems clear, but it’s important to look at the mechanism by which psychedelic substances improve depression.

 

In today’s Research News article “Psychological flexibility mediates the relations between acute psychedelic effects and subjective decreases in depression and anxiety.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7451132/ )  Davis and colleagues recruited adults who have had an experience with a single psychedelic drug. LSD was used by 42% of the respondents and psilocybin was used by 38%. The respondents completed a questionnaire measuring the drug used, when and how much; mystical experiences, acute insight, anxiety, depression, stress, and psychological flexibility.

 

They found that the greater the level of mystical experiences the greater the levels of acute insights and psychological flexibility. They also found that the greater the level of levels of acute insights and psychological flexibility the greater the decrease in anxiety and depression. A path analysis revealed that the effects of mystical experiences and acute insights on anxiety and depression were indirect by way of psychological flexibility. They increased psychological flexibility which reduced anxiety and depression.

 

These are interesting results but caution must be exercised in reaching conclusions as there was no control condition and the results are completely correlational and based upon subjective recall by the individuals. In addition, the participants volunteered by responding to recruitment materials and those who respond are likely those that benefited from the psychedelic experiences.

 

Regardless, the results replicate previous findings that psychedelic drugs increase mystical experiences and acute insights and these are associated with improved mental health. But the results suggest that these effects are completely mediated by increased psychological flexibility. In other words, mystical experiences and acute insights increase flexibility which improves anxiety and depression. “Psychological flexibility is described as an essential set of processes that help people manage stressors and engage in adaptive behaviors that promote values-driven action.”  Hence, this flexibility allows the individual to adaptively respond to events in the environment rather than internalizing them producing anxiety and depression. Psychedelic drugs appear to enhance this flexibility and thereby improve mental health.

 

So, increase psychological flexibility and thereby relieve anxiety and depression with psychedelic drugs.

 

The idea behind psychedelic therapy is that the receptive state that the drug confers opens the door to fresh ideas about how to think about the past and future, which the therapist can reinforce.” – Paul Tullis

 

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Davis, A. K., Barrett, F. S., & Griffiths, R. R. (2020). Psychological flexibility mediates the relations between acute psychedelic effects and subjective decreases in depression and anxiety. Journal of contextual behavioral science, 15, 39–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcbs.2019.11.004

 

Abstract

Prior research has shown that acute subjective psychedelic effects are associated with both spontaneous and intended changes in depression and anxiety. Psychedelics are also theorized to produce increases in psychological flexibility, which could explain decreases in depression and anxiety following a psychedelic experience. Therefore, the present cross-sectional survey study sought to examine whether psychological flexibility mediated the relationship between acute psychedelic experiences and spontaneous or intended changes in depression and anxiety among a large international sample of people who reported having used a psychedelic (n=985; male=71.6%; Caucasian/white=84.1%; Mage=32.2, SD=12.6). A regression analysis showed that acute effects (i.e., mystical and insightful effects) were significantly associated with decreases in depression/anxiety following a psychedelic experience. A path analysis revealed that, while controlling for age and sex, increases in psychological flexibility fully mediated the effect of mystical and insightful experiences on decreases in depression and anxiety following a psychedelic experience. This suggests that psychological flexibility may be an important mediator of the therapeutic effects of psychedelic drugs. Future prospective experimental studies should examine the effect of psychedelic drug administration on psychological flexibility in order to gain a better understanding of the psychological processes that predict therapeutic effects of psychedelics.

Highlights

  • Acute psychedelic effects are related to changes in depression/anxiety
  • Changes in psychological flexibility fully mediate this relationship
  • Psychological flexibility should be examined in clinical trials with psychedelics

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7451132/

 

Tai Chi Practice Improves the Symptoms of Multiple Diseases

Tai Chi Practice Improves the Symptoms of Multiple Diseases

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In addition to easing balance problems, and possibly other symptoms, tai chi can help ease stress and anxiety and strengthen all parts of the body, with few if any harmful side effects.” Peter Wayne

 

Tai Chi is an ancient mindfulness practice involving slow prescribed movements. It is gentle and completely safe, can be used with the elderly and sickly, is inexpensive to administer, can be performed in groups or alone, at home or in a facility or even public park, and can be quickly learned. In addition, it can also be practiced in social groups without professional supervision. This can make it fun, improving the likelihood of long-term engagement in the practice. Indeed, studies have shown that Tai Chi practice is effective in improving the symptoms of many different diseases. The evidence is accumulating. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been learned about the effectiveness of different Tai Chi practices for different disease conditions.

 

In today’s Research News article “.Clinical Evidence of Tai Chi Exercise Prescriptions: A Systematic Review” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7972853/ ) Huang and colleagues review and summarize the published randomized controlled trials on the effectiveness of different Tai Chi practices for different disease conditions. They identified 139 published randomized controlled trials utilizing a number of different Tai Chi styles and numbers of forms. Yang style was by far the most frequent style and 24 forms was the most frequent number of forms employed.

 

They report that the published research found that Tai Chi practice produced significant improvement in the symptoms of musculoskeletal system or connective tissue diseases such as osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic low back pain.; on circulatory system diseases such as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, and chronic heart failure; on mental and behavioral disorders such as depression, cognitive impairment, and intellectual disabilities; on nervous system diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and sleep disorders; on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); on endocrine, nutritional, or metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome; on the physical and mental state of cancer patients, and on traumatic brain injury and urinary tract disorders; on balance control and flexibility and falls in older adults.

 

These are remarkable findings. Tai Chi practice appears to be a safe and effective treatment for the symptoms of a wide variety of diseases. It doesn’t cure the disease. Rather if alleviates the symptoms. It is not known the mechanisms by which Tai Chi has these benefits. Future research needs to further explore what facets or effects of Tai Chi practice are responsible for the disease symptom improvements.

 

So, Tai Chi practice improves the symptoms of multiple diseases.

 

Tai Chi and Qigong are evidence-based approaches to improve health-related quality of life, and they may be effective for a range of physical health conditions.” – Ryan Abbott

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Huang, J., Wang, D., & Wang, J. (2021). Clinical Evidence of Tai Chi Exercise Prescriptions: A Systematic Review. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2021, 5558805. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/5558805

 

Abstract

Objectives

This systematic review aims to summarize the existing literature on Tai Chi randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and recommend Tai Chi exercise prescriptions for different diseases and populations.

Methods

A systematic search for Tai Chi RCTs was conducted in five electronic databases (PubMed, Cochrane Library, EMBASE, EBSCO, and Web of Science) from their inception to December 2019. SPSS 20.0 software and Microsoft Excel 2019 were used to analyze the data, and the risk of bias tool in the RevMan 5.3.5 software was used to evaluate the methodological quality of RCTs.

Results

A total of 139 articles were identified, including diseased populations (95, 68.3%) and healthy populations (44, 31.7%). The diseased populations included the following 10 disease types: musculoskeletal system or connective tissue diseases (34.7%), circulatory system diseases (23.2%), mental and behavioral disorders (12.6%), nervous system diseases (11.6%), respiratory system diseases (6.3%), endocrine, nutritional or metabolic diseases (5.3%), neoplasms (3.2%), injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (1.1%), genitourinary system diseases (1.1%), and diseases of the eye and adnexa (1.1%). Tai Chi exercise prescription was generally classified as moderate intensity. The most commonly applied Tai Chi style was Yang style (92, 66.2%), and the most frequently specified Tai Chi form was simplified 24-form Tai Chi (43, 30.9%). 12 weeks and 24 weeks, 2-3 times a week, and 60 min each time was the most commonly used cycle, frequency, and time of exercise in Tai Chi exercise prescriptions.

Conclusions

We recommend the more commonly used Tai Chi exercise prescriptions for different diseases and populations based on clinical evidence of Tai Chi. Further clinical research on Tai Chi should be combined with principles of exercise prescription to conduct large-sample epidemiological studies and long-term prospective follow-up studies to provide more substantive clinical evidence for Tai Chi exercise prescriptions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7972853/

 

Improve Pain, Sleep, and the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Internet Mindfulness Training

Improve Pain, Sleep, and the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Internet Mindfulness Training

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“In the context of chronic pain . . . meditation can help you to stop your mind wandering back to your pain when you are trying to focus on something else, therefore improving your ability to give your entire attention to the task at hand and in turn, improve your level of functioning. It gives you the power to take your mind off your pain and refocus it, therefore aiding you in replacing unhelpful, behaviours with healthy ones which can reduce your pain and allow you to take better care of your health.” – Ann-Marie D’arcy-Sharpe

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) requires a scheduled program of sessions with a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy as microlearning for chronic pain: A randomized controlled trial with 1‐year follow‐up.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1723 ) Rickardsson and colleagues recruited adult chronic pain patients and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive an 8-week program of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered over the internet. ACT was delivered in daily microlearning short learning interactions. There was a 74% completion rate of the modules. The participants were measured before and after training and at 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-ups for psychiatric problems, pain interference, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, values, and health-related quality of life.

 

They found that compared to baseline and the wait-list control group, the group that received internet-delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) had significant decreases in pain interference, pain intensity, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, value obstruction, and insomnia. These improvements were long-lasting as they were maintained at the 12-month follow-up.

 

These are impressive improvements in the pain and psychological health of these diverse chronic pain patients. These results correspond with the frequent prior observations that mindfulness training produces reductions in pain, anxiety, depression, psychological inflexibility, and insomnia in a wide range of patient types and normal individuals. These results are particularly impressive as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) was delivered over the internet. in daily microlearning short learning interactions. This was very convenient for the patients and required only 12.4 minutes per week of therapist time per week and was thus very inexpensive to deliver. Yet ACT was highly effective and lasting in relieving the suffering of these chronic pain patients.

 

So, improve pain, sleep, and the mental health of chronic pain patients with internet mindfulness training.

 

What we want to do as best as we can is to engage with the pain just as it is. It’s not about achieving a certain goal – like minimizing pain – but learning to relate to your pain differently.” – Elisha Goldstein

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Jenny Rickardsson, Charlotte Gentili, Linda Holmström, Vendela Zetterqvist, Erik Andersson, Jan Persson, Mats Lekander, Brjánn Ljótsson, Rikard K. Wicksell. Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy as microlearning for chronic pain: A randomized controlled trial with 1‐year follow‐up, European Journal of Pain, 2021;00:1–19, https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.1723

 

Abstract

Background

Studies of Internet‐delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) for chronic pain have shown small to moderate positive effects for pain interference and pain acceptance. Effects on pain intensity, depression, anxiety and quality of life (QoL) have been less favourable, and improvements for values and sleep are lacking. In this randomized controlled trial iACT – a novel format of Internet‐ACT using daily microlearning exercises – was examined for efficacy compared to a waitlist condition.

Methods

Adult participants (mean age 49.5 years, pain duration 18.1 years) with diverse chronic pain conditions were recruited via self‐referral, and randomized to iACT (n = 57) or waitlist (n = 56). The primary outcome was pain interference. The secondary outcomes were QoL, depression, anxiety, insomnia and pain intensity. The process variables included psychological inflexibility and values. Post‐assessments were completed by 88% (n = 100) of participants. Twelve‐month follow‐up assessments were completed by 65% (iACT only, n = 37). Treatment efficacy was analysed using linear mixed models and an intention‐to‐treat‐approach.

Results

Significant improvements in favour of iACT were seen for pain interference, depression, anxiety, pain intensity and insomnia, as well as process variables psychological inflexibility and values. Between‐group effect sizes were large for pain interference (d = 0.99) and pain intensity (d = 1.2), moderate for anxiety and depressive symptoms and small for QoL and insomnia. For the process variables, the between‐group effect size was large for psychological inflexibility (d = 1.0) and moderate for values. All improvements were maintained at 1‐year follow‐up.

Conclusions

Internet‐ACT as microlearning may improve a broad range of outcomes in chronic pain.

Significance

The study evaluates a novel behavioral treatment with positive results on pain interference, mood as well as pain intensity for longtime chronic pain sufferers. The innovative format of a digital ACT intervention delivered in short and experiential daily learnings may be a promising way forward.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.1723

 

jenny.rickardsson@ki.se

 

Improve the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Mindfulness Training Over the Internet.

Improve the Mental Health of Chronic Pain Patients with Mindfulness Training Over the Internet.

 

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Daily mindfulness practice can be helpful for people living with chronic pain because sometimes there are negative or worrisome thoughts about the pain. These thoughts are normal, and can affect mood and increase pain. Being able to focus on relaxing the body, noticing the breath and body sensations as being there just as they are, can help manage pain, as well as reduce depression and anxiety symptoms.” – Amanda Necker

 

We all have to deal with pain. It’s inevitable, but hopefully it’s mild and short lived. For a wide swath of humanity, however, pain is a constant in their lives. At least 100 million adult Americans have chronic pain conditions. The most common treatment for chronic pain is drugs. These include over-the-counter analgesics and opioids. But opioids are dangerous and highly addictive. Prescription opioid overdoses kill more than 14,000 people annually. So, there is a great need to find safe and effective ways to lower the psychological distress and improve the individual’s ability to cope with the pain.

 

There is an accumulating volume of research findings that demonstrate that mindfulness practices, in general, are effective in treating pain. A therapeutic technique that contains mindfulness training and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). It focuses on the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior and how they interact to impact their psychological and physical well-being. It then works to change thinking to alter the interaction and produce greater life satisfaction. ACT employs mindfulness practices to increase awareness and develop an attitude of acceptance and compassion in the presence of painful thoughts and feelings. ACT teaches individuals to “just notice”, accept and embrace private experiences and focus on behavioral responses that produce more desirable outcomes.

 

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) requires a scheduled program of sessions with a trained therapist. This results in costs that many clients can’t afford. In addition, the participants must be available to attend multiple sessions at particular scheduled times that may or may not be compatible with their busy schedules and at locations that may not be convenient. As an alternative, mindfulness training over the internet have been developed. These have tremendous advantages in decreasing costs, making training schedules much more flexible, and eliminating the need to go repeatedly to specific locations. In addition, research has indicated that mindfulness training online can be effective for improving the health and well-being of the participants.

 

In today’s Research News article “Internet-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (iACT) for chronic pain-feasibility and preliminary effects in clinical and self-referred patients.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7327284/ ) Rickardsson and colleagues recruited chronic pain patients and provided them with 10 weeks of 4 times per week 15 minute programmed Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) delivered via the internet. Therapists interacted with the individual participants via text once a week for 12 weeks. They were measured before and after training and at 3 and 12-month follow-ups for pain interference, psychological flexibility, value orientation, quality of life, pain intensity, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that following treatment there were significant improvements in pain interference, psychological inflexibility, value progress, value obstruction, QoL, depressive symptoms, pain intensity, anxiety and insomnia. These improvements were maintained at the 3 and 12-month follow-ups.

 

This was a pilot study without a comparison condition. As such, it must be interpreted with caution. But the results suggest that Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) can be effectively delivered via the internet with the suggestion that it produced lasting improvements in the psychological health of the chronic pain patients. The internet delivery is important as it allows for convenient, cost-effective, mass delivery of the program. This makes it a particularly desirable therapeutic method for the treatment of patients with chronic pain.

 

So, improve the mental health of chronic pain patients with mindfulness training over the internet.

 

Mindfulness can help you . . . to reduce the suffering associated with pain without necessarily reducing the severity of the pain itself. It can also help you approach your pain with less fear and more acceptance, allowing you to live life fully, even though you have pain.” – Andrea Uptmor

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Rickardsson, J., Zetterqvist, V., Gentili, C., Andersson, E., Holmström, L., Lekander, M., Persson, M., Persson, J., Ljótsson, B., & Wicksell, R. K. (2020). Internet-delivered acceptance and commitment therapy (iACT) for chronic pain-feasibility and preliminary effects in clinical and self-referred patients. mHealth, 6, 27. https://doi.org/10.21037/mhealth.2020.02.02

 

Abstract

Background

Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is an evidence-based treatment to improve functioning and quality of life (QoL) for chronic pain patients, but outreach of this treatment is unsatisfactory. Internet-delivery has been shown to increase treatment access but there is limited evidence regarding feasibility and effectiveness of web-based ACT for chronic pain. The aim of the study was to evaluate and iterate a novel internet-delivered ACT program, iACT, in a clinical and a self-referred sample of chronic pain patients. The intervention was developed in close collaboration with patients. To enhance learning, content was organized in short episodes to promote daily engagement in treatment. In both the clinical and self-referred samples, three critical domains were evaluated: (I) feasibility (acceptability, practicality and usage); (II) preliminary efficacy on pain interference, psychological inflexibility, value orientation, QoL, pain intensity, anxiety, insomnia and depressive symptoms; and (III) potential treatment mechanisms.

Methods

This was an open pilot study with two samples: 15 patients from a tertiary pain clinic and 24 self-referred chronic pain participants, recruited from October 2015 until January 2017. Data were collected via an online platform in free text and self-report measures, as well as through individual oral feedback. Group differences were analyzed with Chi square-, Mann-Whitney U- or t-test. Preliminary efficacy and treatment mechanism data were collected via self-report and analyzed with multilevel linear modeling for repeated measures.

Results

Feasibility: patient feedback guided modifications to refine the intervention and indicated that iACT was acceptable in both samples. User insights provided input for both immediate and future actions to improve feasibility. Comprehensiveness, workability and treatment credibility were adequate in both samples. Psychologists spent on average 13.5 minutes per week per clinical patient, and 8 minutes per self-referred patient (P=0.004). Recruitment rate was 24 times faster in the self-referred sample (24 patients in 1 month, compared to 15 patients in 15 months, P<0.001) and the median distance to the clinic was 40 km in the clinical sample, and 426 km in the self-referred sample (P<0.001). Preliminary effects: post-assessments were completed by 26 participants (67%). Significant effects of time were seen from pre- to post-treatment across all outcome variables. Within group effect sizes (Cohen’s d) at post-treatment ranged from small to large: pain interference (d=0.64, P<0.001), psychological inflexibility (d=1.43, P<0.001), value progress (d=0.72, P<0.001), value obstruction (d=0.42, P<0.001), physical QoL (d=0.41, P=0.005), mental QoL (d=0.67, P=0.005), insomnia (d=0.31, P<0.001), depressive symptoms (d=0.47, P<0.001), pain intensity (d=0.78, P=0.001) and anxiety (d=0.46, P<0.001). Improvements were sustained at 1-year follow-up. Psychological inflexibility and value progress were found to be potential treatment mechanisms.

Conclusions

The results from the present study suggests that iACT was feasible in both the clinical and the self-referred sample. Together with the positive preliminary results on all outcomes, the findings from this feasibility study pave the way for a subsequent large randomized efficacy trial.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7327284/