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Psychosomatics. 2016 May-Jun;57(3):292-300. doi: 10.1016/j.psym.2016.01.001. Epub 2016 Jan 6.

A Randomized Double-Blind Controlled Trial Comparing Davanloo Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy as Internet-Delivered Vs Treatment as Usual for Medically Unexplained Pain: A 6-Month Pilot Study.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran. Electronic address:
Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran, Iran.



Research has shown that Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) can effectively decrease pain intensity and improve quality of life in patients with medically unexplained pain.


Understanding that not all patients with medically unexplained pain have access to in-person ISTDP, this study aims to investigate the efficacy of an Internet-delivered ISTDP for individuals with medically unexplained pain using Skype in comparison with treatment as usual.


In this randomized controlled trial, 100 patients were randomly allocated into Internet-delivered ISTDP (n = 50) and treatment-as- usual (n = 50) groups. Treatment intervention consisted of 16 weekly, hour-long therapy sessions. The primary outcome was perceived pain assessed using the Numeric Pain Rating Scale. The secondary outcome included Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21, Emotion Regulation Questionnaire, Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, and Quality-of-Life Inventory. Blind assessments were conducted at the baseline, posttreatment, and at a 6-month follow-up.


In the intention-to-treat analysis, pain symptoms in the intervention group were significantly reduced (p < 0.001), whereas a reduction was not observed in the treatment as usual group (p = 0.651). Moreover, there were significant decreases in depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as a greater increase in emotion regulation functioning, mindfulness, and quality of life observed in the intervention group 6 months after the treatment compared with the treatment as usual condition.


The results of this pilot trial demonstrate that 16 weeks of ISTDP delivered by Skype can significantly improve pain intensity and clinical symptoms of medically unexplained pain.


intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy; medically unexplained pain; somatization; telemedicine

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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