Variables related to acceptance and commitment Therapy: influence on chronic pain and activity engagement
Watts, Robert B.
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Chronic pain, resulting from a number of physical conditions, is a problem that affects many individuals worldwide (Breivik, Collett, Ventafridda, Cohen, & Gallacher, 2006; Magni, Caldieron, Rigatti-Luchini, & Merskey, 1990) . In addition to the presence of continual pain, chronic pain is associated with psychological distress including depression and anxiety. Also, people with chronic pain are more likely to experience physical disability leading to disengagement from normal daily activity. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT; Hayes, Strosahl, & Wilson, 2011) is a treatment model which has been developed in order to reduce the impact of psychological distress on participation in important life activities by increasing an individual’s utilization of mindfulness and acceptance. An ACT model for chronic pain has been developed (Dahl, Wilson, Luciano, & Hayes, 2005) as a means to reduce the negative impact of chronic pain on activity engagement. Though there is evidence of the efficacy and utility of the ACT model for chronic pain, little research has been conducted in order to validate and test the theoretical constructs as a process. The current study involved a community sample of individuals (N = 158) experiencing chronic pain. A hierarchical linear regression found an association between increasing levels of measures of acceptance and pain willingness and increasing levels of activity engagement after controlling for distress and pain severity (R2 = .50, ΔR2 = .07, ΔF(1, 151) = 22.42, p = .00). These results indicate a potential for mitigating effects on activity engagement through targeting ACT-related variables, acceptance and pain willingness in particular, for chronic pain patients.