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Mind-Body Activity Program for Chronic Pain: Exploring Mechanisms of Improvement in Patient-Reported, Performance-Based and Ambulatory Physical Function

Authors Greenberg J, Mace RA, Bannon SM, Kulich RJ, Vranceanu AM

Received 24 December 2020

Accepted for publication 20 January 2021

Published 5 February 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 359—368


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Jonathan Greenberg,1,2 Ryan A Mace,1,2 Sarah M Bannon,1,2 Ronald J Kulich,2,3 Ana-Maria Vranceanu2

1Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA; 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; 3Center for Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence: Ana-Maria Vranceanu
Integrated Brain Health Clinical and Research Program, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, One Bowdoin Square, 1st Floor, Suite 100, Boston, MA, 02114, USA
Tel +1 617 724 4977

Background: Improving physical function among patients with chronic pain is critical for reducing disability and healthcare costs. However, mechanisms underlying improvement in patient-reported, performance-based, and ambulatory physical function in chronic pain remain poorly understood.
Purpose: To explore psychosocial mediators of improvement in patient-reported, performance-based, and objective/accelerometer-measured physical function among participants in a mind-body activity program.
Methods: Individuals with chronic pain were randomized to one of two identical 10-week mind-body activity interventions aimed at improving physical function with (GetActive-Fitbit; N=41) or without (GetActive; N=41) a Fitbit device. They completed self-reported (WHODAS 2.0), performance-based (6-minute walk test), and objective (accelerometer-measured step-count) measures of physical function, as well as measures of kinesiophobia (Tampa Kinesiophobia Scale), mindfulness (CAMS-R), and pain resilience (Pain Resilience Scale) before and after the intervention. We conducted secondary data analyses to test mediation via mixed-effects modeline.
Results: Improvements in patient-reported physical function were fully and uniquely mediated by kinesiophobia (Completely Standardized Indirect Effect (CSIE)=.18; CI=0.08, 0.30; medium-large effect size), mindfulness (CSIE=− .14; CI=− 25, − .05; medium effect size) and pain resilience (CSIE=− .07; CI=− .16, − .005; small-medium effect size). Improvements in performance-based physical function were mediated only by kinesiophobia (CSIE=− .11; CI=− 23, − .008; medium effect size). No measures mediated improvements in objective (accelerometer measured) physical function.
Conclusion: Interventions aiming to improve patient-reported physical function in patients with chronic pain may benefit from skills that target kinesiophobia, mindfulness, and pain resilience, while those focused on improving performance-based physical function should target primarily kinesiophobia. More research is needed to understand mechanisms of improvement in objective, accelerometer-measured physical function.
Trial Registration: NCT03412916.

Keywords: chronic pain, disability, mind-body, physical function, mediation, psychosocial variables

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