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The development of psychological flexibility in chronic pain patients during acceptance and commitment therapy: how do acceptance, values-based action and application of learned principles develop during an eight-week inpatient treatment in five patients?

Weiss, Laura A. (2011) The development of psychological flexibility in chronic pain patients during acceptance and commitment therapy: how do acceptance, values-based action and application of learned principles develop during an eight-week inpatient treatment in five patients?

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Abstract:Background. Chronic pain is remarkably common. It causes problems for both the suffering individual and society. Common treatments, like pharmacological treatment, do not always help when it comes to chronic pain. The pain cannot be managed anymore and the experience of pain cannot be avoided. In fact, persistent attempts to avoid the pain can lead to maintenance and often even an increase in pain. Therefore, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) does not lean on pain control, but on a valuable life with pain and limitations. ACT aims to increase psychological flexibility. Aims. In this study, the aim was to examine the development of pain patients during an eight-week, ACT-based treatment. We wanted to take a closer look at the development of acceptance, values-based action and application of learned principles during this treatment to see how psychological flexibility develops. Another subject was to examin if patients experience a crisis during the treatment, as often seen by therapists. Method. Five intensive single case studies were conducted to get a better understanding of how ACT works. The participants were chronic pain patients who took part in a three days a week inpatient treatment in the Roessingh Rehabilitation Center in the Netherlands. Starting in the second treatment week, interviews were conducted weekly during the eight treatment weeks. The interviews were taken accordingly to an interview scheme, with open questions. Follow up interviews were taken six weeks after the last treatment week. The interviews were scored on acceptance, values-based action and application on a scale from 1 to 5. The average of the three scales taken together was taken as measure for psychological flexibility. Results. A positive development in psychological flexibility and all three subscales has been found for all five patients. Each patient progressed in a unieque pattern, each development being different from the other. Three of the five patients went through a ‘crisis’ during treatment, all at different moments. The crisis had a postitive impact on the end result. Within four patients, psychological flexibility decreased in the follow-up interview compared to the interview in the last treatment week. Conclusions. There has been found evidence that an eight-week ACT-based treatment helped patients to better accept their pain and pain-related limitations, to act upon their values and to integrate the principles they had learned during the treatment in their daily lives. The ACT treatment seems to be able to realize the aim to increase the psychological development of the patients. Thereby, every patient showed his own unique pattern of development.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/61700
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