HEALTH / WELL-BEING

A group-based chronic pain intervention using the Unlearn Your Pain method: A retrospective one-arm cohort study

Article

Chronic pain is a frequent occurrence in military and Veteran populations. This study examined whether a group-based chronic pain treatment using the Unlearn Your Pain method was effective in reducing chronic pain in 21 military and Veteran participants. Participants completed measures of pain before and after engaging in the treatment, and results showed participants experienced large reductions in total pain and pain-related catastrophizing and moderate reductions in pain-related disability and pain-related fear of movement after completing the treatment. A smaller group of the participants completed the measures again eight weeks after completing treatment, and the size of their improvements was even greater. This study offers preliminary support for the use of the Unlearn Your Pain method as offered in a group format to military and Veteran populations. Further study is warranted.

Abstract

Introduction: Chronic pain is a prevalent health issue in military and Veteran populations. The current retrospective one-arm cohort study sought to determine whether a group-based chronic pain intervention, using the Unlearn Your Pain method, was effective in reducing chronic pain in military and Veteran participants. Methods: Retrospective chart reviews were conducted for 21 military and Veteran patients who participated in a 10-week group intervention based on the Unlearn Your Pain method at a specialized outpatient clinic that focuses on the mental health needs of this population. The intervention included psychoeducation on the mind-body connection, discovering and addressing personal sources of stress, mindfulness exercises, and brain retraining exercises. All participants completed questionnaires on pain severity, pain-related disability, and pain-related fear of movement at pretreatment and posttreatment time points, while a subset also completed these measures after an eight-week follow-up. Another subset completed a measure of pain-related catastrophizing at pretreatment and posttreatment. Results: Over the course of the 10-week program, participants experienced large effects-size reductions in total pain and pain-related catastrophizing, moderate changes in sensory descriptors of pain, and small changes in affective descriptors of pain, average pain, pain-related disability, and pain-related fear of movement. Participants who completed measures at the eight-week follow-up experienced greater improvements, with all effects in the large and moderate range. Discussion: These results offer preliminary support for using the Unlearn Your Pain method in a group format with military and Veteran populations. Further studies should be conducted using randomized controlled trials and larger sample sizes to support the effectiveness of this treatment approach.

Full Reference

Holens, P.L., Rock, L., Buhler, J., Southall, M., Imbrogno, L., Desorcy-Nantel, C. and Romaniuk, A., 2021. A group-based chronic pain intervention using the Unlearn Your Pain method: A retrospective one-arm cohort study. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health, 7(S2), pp.43-53.