In recent years, different studies have observed a strong association between chronic pain (CP) and psychological trauma. Therefore, a trauma-focused psychotherapy, such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), could be an innovative treatment option. The aim of this pilot study was to assess whether a specific EMDR protocol for CP leads to (a) a reduction in pain intensity, (b) an improvement in anxiety and depressive symptoms, and (c) an improvement in quality of life. 28 CP patients were randomly assigned to EMDR + treatment as usual (TAU; n = 14) or to TAU alone (n = 14). Patients in the EMDR group received 12 psychotherapeutic sessions of 90 minutes over 3 months. Pain intensity was measured using the Visual Analog Scale and the Pain Disability index, quality of life using the EQ-5D-5L, and anxiety and depressive symptoms using the Hamilton Anxiety and Depression Scale. Measures were taken for both conditions at pre- and post-treatment, and a follow-up in the EMDR condition was taken at 3 months post-treatment. Patients in the EMDR group showed significantly reduced pain intensity and improved quality of life and anxiety and depressive symptoms compared to TAU alone at post-treatment. Improvements were largely maintained at 3-month follow-up. This study suggests that EMDR may be an effective and safe psychological intervention to be used within the multidisciplinary treatment plan of patients with CP.
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Suárez, N. A., Pérez, J. M., Redolar-Ripoll, D., Hogg, B. M., Gardoki-Souto, I., Guerrero, F. G., Cabrera, S. J., Bernal, D. S., Amann, B. L., & Moreno-Alcázar, A. (2020). EMDR Versus Treatment-as-Usual in Patients With Chronic Non-Malignant Pain: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 14(4), 190–205. https://doi.org/10.1891/EMDR-D-20-00004
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research