A Controlled Investigation of a Cognitive Behavioural Pain Management Program for Older Adults Academic Article uri icon

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  • Background: Although psychosocial treatments for pain have been found to be effective in reducing self-reported pain, physician visits, and in improving mood, the research has largely focused on younger persons. As such, there is a paucity of related studies involving older adults. Method: We implemented and evaluated a 10-session psychosocial (i.e. cognitive behavioural orientation) pain management program that was specifically designed for older adults. The intervention was delivered either in the participants' homes or in bookable rooms in seniors' residence buildings. Ninety-five community dwelling seniors with at least one chronic pain condition were assigned to either a treatment or a wait-list control condition. An assessment battery was administered to treatment participants immediately before the program started, immediately post-treatment, and 3-months post-treatment. Comparable data were obtained from control group participants, although 3-month follow-up data were not available for the control group. Outcome variables included pain intensity, coping strategy usage, pain beliefs/appraisals, and perceived life stressors. Results: Although decreases in pain intensity were observed in both the treatment and wait-list control groups, the intervention was found to result in fewer maladaptive beliefs about pain and greater use of relaxation, which is considered to be an adaptive coping strategy. Conclusions: Although some treatment benefits were identified (e.g. change in pain-related beliefs), future research should test the effectiveness of a cognitive behavioural treatment program tailored for seniors with participants who are experiencing higher pain intensities than those reported by our sample (i.e. those who experience a higher level of pain at baseline may represent a more suitable sample for assessing the effectiveness of our intervention in reducing pain intensity).


  • Green, Sheryl
  • Hadjistavropoulos, Thomas
  • Hadjistavropoulos, Heather
  • Martin, Ronald
  • Sharpe, Donald

publication date

  • March 2009