Pain management in inflammatory bowel disease: feasibility of an online therapist-supported CBT-based self-management intervention

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BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is a poorly managed symptom of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has an evidence base in functional gastrointestinal conditions and chronic pain. This study aimed to test the feasibility and acceptability of a 9-week online facilitator-supported CBT intervention, tailored for people with chronic IBD-related pain.

DESIGN: A single-arm pre-post design with nested qualitative interviews was used. Twenty individuals with IBD and chronic pain were recruited through an online IBD charity and had consented to research in a previous survey or responded to an online charity advert. Individuals who indicated a pain-interference score of ≥ 4/10 (Brief Pain Inventory) and met inclusion criteria were invited to take part. Outcomes included recruitment and retention rates, pain interference and severity, quality of life (QoL) and psychosocial measures.

RESULTS: Of 145 individuals contacted, 55 (37.9%) responded. Two individuals were recruited from the study advertisement. Twenty out of 57 (35.1%) met screening and eligibility criteria. Eighty-five percent of the sample engaged with intervention sessions and 55% completed at least 5/9 sessions. Eighty percent of recruited participants completed the post-intervention questionnaire at week 9. The mean score for overall acceptability was 43.4 (0-70). Qualitative feedback demonstrated the value of thought monitoring and facilitator support. Scores improved for QoL and pain self-efficacy and reduced for depression, anxiety, pain catastrophising and avoidance resting behaviour.

CONCLUSIONS: Online CBT for chronic IBD-related pain appears feasible and acceptable. The study suggests positive effects for improving QoL and reducing psychological distress; however, online and face-to-face recruitment methods are recommended and establishing efficacy through larger randomised controlled trials is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number95
Pages (from-to)95
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2021


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