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Pain. 1988 Sep;34(3):231-44.

Meta-analysis of non-medical treatments for chronic pain.

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Crestview Treatment Center, Washington University, St. Louis, MO.

Erratum in

  • Pain 1989 Apr;37(1):128.


A meta-analysis was conducted on 109 published studies which assessed the outcome of various non-medical treatments for chronic pain. Of these studies, 48 provided sufficient information to calculate effect sizes. The remainder were examined according to proportion of patients rated as improved. Studies were compared as a function of type of treatment, type of pain, and type of outcome variable. In general, effect sizes were positive and of modest magnitude indicating the short-term efficacy of most treatments for most types of pain. This finding suggests that the effectiveness of treatments may be attributable not to the differences between treatments, but to the features they have in common. Mood and number of subjective symptoms consistently showed greater responses to treatment than did pain intensity, pain duration, or frequency of pain, indicating the importance of using a multidimensional framework for pain assessment. This finding also suggests that the benefit of psychological approaches to pain management may lie in reducing the fear and depression associated with pain, rather than relieving the pain itself. The present study also highlights the advantages of meta-analytic reviews.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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