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Change in Fatigue in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy-Based Treatment for Chronic Pain and Its Association with Enhanced Psychological Flexibility

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-247
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean journal of pain (London, England)
Issue number1
Early online date5 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2019 European Pain Federation - EFIC®.

King's Authors


Fatigue is commonly reported by people with chronic pain. The purpose of the current study was to examine Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), based on the Psychological Flexibility (PF) model, for fatigue in chronic pain. This study included 354 adults attending an interdisciplinary ACT-oriented treatment for chronic pain. T-tests and analyses of clinically meaningful change were used to investigate participant improvements in fatigue interference after the treatment. Pearson's correlations and hierarchical regressions were conducted to investigate associations between improvement in fatigue interference and improvements in PF processes. Finally, mixed effects models were used to explore associations between baseline fatigue interference and changes in treatment outcome measures. Participants improved in fatigue interference (d=.37), pain, some PF processes, and daily functioning (d=.18-1.08). 39.7% of participants demonstrated clinically meaningfully improvements in fatigue interference. Changes in fatigue interference was associated with changes in pain, PF processes and daily functioning, |r|= .20-.46. Change in fatigue interference was associated with change in pain acceptance independent of change in pain, β=-.36, p<.001. However, baseline fatigue interference did not predict any treatment outcome. Overall, people with fatigue appeared to benefit from the ACT-oriented interdisciplinary treatment for chronic pain, and relatively higher levels of fatigue did not appear to impede this benefit. ACT-based treatments may benefit people with chronic pain and fatigue. Future studies including experimental designs, and studies investigating other PF processes, are needed to better understand the utility of ACT for co-morbid fatigue and pain.

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