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Clinical Trial Summary

Chronic pain is a significant problem affecting millions of Americans. Research has shown that psychological treatments can help people with chronic pain manage their pain and improve their quality of life. Three common psychological treatments for chronic pain are Cognitive Therapy (CT), Mindfulness Meditation (MM), and Activation Skills (AS). While research has shown these treatments are helpful for people with chronic pain, there is little research explaining why these treatments are helpful. The purpose of this study is to understand the specific ways these treatments work. Increasing our understanding of how these treatments work will help researchers and clinicians improve treatments for people with chronic pain in the future. Aim 1, Primary: Researchers will determine how much late-treatment improvement in pain interference related to the study's psychological treatments is predicted by early-treatment changes in the content of negative thoughts about pain (i.e., pain catastrophizing), thought processes (i.e., non-judgment), and/or activity level. Hypothesis 1a: Early treatment changes in pain catastrophizing, non-judgment, and activity level are significantly related with late treatment improvements in pain interference. Hypothesis 1b: If changes in pain catastrophizing, non-judgment, and activity level are mechanisms shared across the three treatments, then the actual treatment condition will have small and non-significant effects on early changes in the mechanism variables. This is known as the Shared Mechanisms Model. Hypothesis 1c: If changes in pain catastrophizing, non-judgment, and activity level are mechanisms specific to CT, MM, and AS, respectively, then treatment condition will have a significant effect on early changes in the mechanism variables (i.e., the effects of the three treatments on the three mechanism variables will be different, with CT having the largest effects on early treatment decreases in catastrophizing, MM having the largest effects on early treatment increases in non-judgment, and AS having the largest effects on early treatment increases in activity level). In addition, later improvement in the primary outcome will be predicted by different mechanism variables as a function of treatment condition; that is, late treatment changes in pain interference will be substantially and uniquely predicted by early treatment changes in: (1) cognitive content (i.e., pain catastrophizing) in CT but not in MM or AS; (2) cognitive process (i.e., non-judgment) in MM but not in CT or AS; and (3) activity level in AS but not in CT or MM, in addition to each mechanism variable significantly predicting the primary outcome. This is known as the Specific Mechanisms Model. Researchers also predict that change in the mechanism variables will precede and predict change in outcome, but not vice versa. Secondary Objective: As a secondary aim, this study will also examine the post-treatment mechanisms that explain relapse, maintenance, and continued gains associated with these treatments [Aim 2; Secondary]. The Shared (Hypothesis 2a) and Specific (Hypothesis 2b) Mechanism models will also be applied to data collected via EMA and ActiGraph daily during the 4-weeks post-treatment to better understand the post-treatment mechanisms that underlie maintenance of gains and relapse. Exploratory Objective: Researchers will test if (1) higher baseline levels of catastrophizing are associated with a positive response to the CT intervention, (2) lower baseline levels of activity are associated with a positive response to AS, and (3) higher baseline levels of non-judgment are associated with a positive response to MM.


Clinical Trial Description

The purpose of this randomized controlled trial is to evaluate the mechanisms of cognitive therapy (CT), mindfulness meditation (MM), and activation skills (AS) as treatments for individuals with chronic pain who endorse low back pain as a primary or secondary pain problem. Participants (240 individuals) will be randomly assigned to eight (8), 1.5 hour telehealth group sessions of (1) CT, (2) MM, or (3) AS. Mechanisms and outcomes will be assessed twice daily during 2-week baseline, 4-week treatment period, and 4-week post-treatment epoch via cue-elicited ecological momentary assessment (EMA); activity level will be monitored during these time epochs via daily monitoring with ActiGraph technology. Follow-up macro-level assessments will be conducted at 3- and 6-months post-treatment. The study will address two aims. Primary Objective: The objective of the proposed research is to examine the mechanisms of cognitive therapy (CT), mindfulness meditation training (MM), and activation skills treatment (AS) [Aim 1; Primary]. After ensuring that there is at least a small effect of time on early treatment changes in the three mechanism variables, researchers will determine the extent to which late-treatment improvement in primary outcome (pain interference) associated with CT, MM, and AS is predicted by early-treatment changes in cognitive content (i.e., pain catastrophizing), cognitive process (i.e., non-judgment), and/or activity level (i.e., ActiGraph "activity counts"). Hypothesis 1a: Early treatment changes in pain catastrophizing, non-judgment, and activity counts are significantly associated with late treatment improvements in pain interference. Hypothesis 1b: The Shared Mechanisms Model hypothesizes that if changes in cognitive content, cognitive process, and activity levels are shared mechanisms across the three treatments, then treatment condition will have small and non-significant effects on early changes in the mechanism variables (i.e., the effects of the three treatments on the three mechanism variables will be similar; Shared Mechanisms Model). Hypothesis 1c: The Specific Mechanisms Model hypothesizes that if changes in content, process, and activity level are mechanisms specific to CT, MM, and AS, respectively, then treatment condition will have a significant effect on early changes in the mechanism variables (i.e., the effects of the three treatments on the three mechanism variables will be different, with CT having the largest effects on early treatment decreases in catastrophizing, MM having the largest effects on early treatment increases in non-judgment, and AS having the largest effects on early treatment increases in activity level). Further, later improvement in the primary outcome will be predicted by different mechanism variables as a function of treatment condition; that is, late treatment changes in pain interference will be substantially and uniquely predicted by early treatment changes in: (1) cognitive content (i.e., pain catastrophizing) in CT but not in MM or AS; (2) cognitive process (i.e., non-judgment) in MM but not in CT or AS; and (3) activity level in AS but not in CT or MM, in addition to each mechanism variable significantly predicting the primary outcome (Specific Mechanisms Model). Researchers also predict that change in the mechanism variables will precede and predict change in outcome, but not vice versa. Secondary Objective: As a secondary aim, this study will also evaluate the post-treatment mechanisms that explain relapse, maintenance, and continued gains associated with these treatments [Aim 2; Secondary]. The Shared (Hypothesis 2a) and Specific (Hypothesis 2b) Mechanism models will also be applied to data collected via EMA and ActiGraph daily during the 4-weeks post-treatment to better understand the post-treatment mechanisms that underlie maintenance of gains and relapse. Exploratory Objective: Test the Limit, Activate, and Enhance (LAE) moderation model. Specifically, to test if (1) higher baseline levels of catastrophizing are associated with a positive response to the CT intervention, (2) lower baseline levels of activity are associated with a positive response to AS, and (3) higher baseline levels of non-judgment are associated with a positive response to MM. Primary and Secondary Endpoint: The primary endpoint researchers propose for the primary study aim (Aim 1) is the post-treatment pain interference score, operationalized as an average of pain interference ratings made on the twice-daily diaries during the first four days after treatment (i.e., Days 43-46). The endpoint for the secondary study aim (Aim 2) is the post-treatment score at 28 days follow-up, as operationalized as the average of days 67-70 of pain interference ratings on the diaries. Design and Outcomes A randomized, 3-group parallel design, 240-subject clinical trial to test the mechanisms of cognitive therapy, mindfulness meditation, and activation skills on individuals with chronic pain who endorse low back pain as a primary or secondary pain problem. Interventions and Duration Participants will be randomly assigned to eight (8) telehealth group sessions of (1) cognitive therapy (CT), (2) mindfulness meditation (MM), or (3) activation skills (AS). Treatment groups will meet, on average, twice per week over the Zoom videoconferencing platform. Each session will last for a duration of about 90 minutes. Proposed mechanisms and outcomes will be assessed twice daily during 2-week baseline, 4-week treatment period, and 4-week post-treatment epoch via cue-elicited ecological momentary assessment (EMA); activity level will be monitored during these time epochs via daily monitoring with ActiGraph technology. Macro-level assessments will be conducted at pre- and post-treatment and at 3- and 6-months post-treatment. The total time involved in the study (excluding between session skills practice) is approximately 35-40 hours over an 8 to 9-month period. Sample Size and Population Researchers plan to enroll 300 participants with moderate to severe chronic pain including low back pain as a primary or secondary pain problem to achieve a sample size of 240 completers, with 80 completers in each of the treatment groups. Enrolled participants who complete the required baseline components (baseline data and demographic questions, pre-treatment extended assessment period, technology training, re-assessment of pain interference for general activities with a score of ≥3 for the past 3 months, re-assessment of pain consistency with a response of ≥50% of the time in the past 6 months, and a minimum number of EMA surveys during one week of Baseline Monitoring (Days 1-7) will be randomized to one of the three conditions. ;


Study Design


Related Conditions & MeSH terms


NCT number NCT03687762
Study type Interventional
Source University of Washington
Contact
Status Completed
Phase N/A
Start date September 7, 2018
Completion date February 24, 2022

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