MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Mark A. Lumley, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor and Director of Clinical Psychology Training
Department of Psychology
Wayne State University
Detroit, Michigan 48202 and
Howard Schubiner, M.D
Founder and Director Mind-Body Medicine Center
Providence-Providence Park Hospitak
Warren, MI 48092
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Fibromyalgia is a condition that afflicts many people with chronic pain and other symptoms, which are often severe. There is no clear evidence of tissue damage or other peripheral causes of the symptoms, and experts agree that the pain is real, and its primary source is the brain. Medications for fibromyalgia have limited effectiveness, so psychological and behavioral therapies are core to treatment.
Research documents a strong relationship between emotions and pain, and many patients with FM struggle with negative emotions related to difficult life circumstances, such as trauma, abuse, or relationship conflicts. Ironically, most psychological therapies for FM do not address these problems, but rather teach people how to manage their symptoms. Emerging research, however, demonstrates that therapies that help patients engage rather than avoid their difficult emotional experiences improve both psychological and physical symptoms, including pain. Therefore, we developed an emotion-focused therapy, which we call Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy (EAET), and compared it to both an active education-based control condition and to the leading psychological intervention for fibromyalgia, cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT).
The EAET condition was substantially better on multiple outcomes that the control condition 6 months after treatment. Importantly, although EAET did not differ from CBT on many outcomes, EAET was superior than CBT on reducing widespread and in the percentage of individuals achieving substantial pain reduction (that is, at least 50% pain reduction from baseline).