When it comes to chronic pain, psychological interventions often provide more relief than prescription drugs or surgery without the risk of side effects, but are used much less frequently than traditional medical treatments, according to a comprehensive review published by the American Psychological Association.
"Chronic pain affects 116 million American adults, making it more prevalent than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined, and traditional medical approaches are inadequate," said Mark P. Jensen, PhD, of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Washington. Jensen was the scholarly lead for the review, published in the February-March issue of American Psychologist, APA's flagship journal. "This review highlights the key role that psychologists have had - and continue to have - in the understanding and effective treatment of chronic pain."
Articles in the special issue describe how psychology addresses racial and ethnic disparities in the assessment and treatment of chronic pain, persistent pain in older adults and family influences on children's chronic pain. Also discussed is a range of successful treatment approaches for chronic pain, including cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness and hypnosis. Other articles examine how neurophysiology can help tailor treatments for specific cases and how interdisciplinary chronic pain management is most likely to lead to effective outcomes when health care teams include psychologists and coordinate services.
"The more we learn, the more the field of chronic pain treatment recognizes the critical contribution of psychologists," said Jensen. "This may be due to the fact that psychologists' expertise about the brain, behavior and their interaction is at the heart of both the problem of and the solution to chronic pain."
Chronic pain is also among health concerns featured in APA's new Center for Psychology and Health briefing series.
"The series draws upon scientific research to demonstrate psychology's essential role in primary and integrated health care," said APA CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD, director of the center and editor of American Psychologist. "In addition to providing behavioral assessments and treatment that give people skills to manage chronic conditions, psychologists can conduct assessments that differentiate normal processes from illness and address medication side effects, adjustment reactions or combinations of these."
The American Psychologist articles, authors and contact information for the review are:Contributions of Psychology to the Understanding and Treatment of People with Chronic Pain
Contact: Dr. Gatchel at email@example.com or (817) 272-2541Racial/Ethnic Disparities in the Assessment and Treatment of Pain
Contact: Dr. Tait at firstname.lastname@example.org or (314) 977-2047Family and Parent Influences on Pediatric Chronic Pain
Contact: Dr. Palermo at email@example.com or (206) 884-7591Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Individuals with Chronic Pain
Contact: Dr. Ehde at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 744-6084Hypnotic Approaches for Chronic Pain Management
Contact: Dr. Jensen at email@example.com or (206) 543-3185Psychological Pain Interventions and Neurophysiology
Contact: Dr. Flor at firstname.lastname@example.org or +49 (0) 621 1703 6302Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness for Chronic Pain
Contact: Dr. McCracken at email@example.com or +44 (0) 207 1885 410Overview of Persistent Pain in Older Adults
Contact: Dr. Molton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 598-4295
The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA's membership includes more than 134,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people's lives.
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Lisa S. Bowen | EurekAlert!
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