Efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Managing Chronic Pain of Degenerative Conditions: An Overview of Randomized Clinical Trials and Meta-Analysis Studies

  • Nchawanangwa Kaonga
  • Charity Kapenda
  • James Mwanza
  • Brian Chanda Chiluba University of Zambia, School of Health Sciences
Keywords: cognitive behavioral therapy, chronic pain, physiotherapy


Background: Cognitive behavioral therapy is a goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. It has been documented in various studies to have an impact when used in the management of chronic pain. It has been shown to lack the drawbacks of pharmacological and surgical treatments such as addiction and toxicity; and cost and recovery time, respectively. Cognitive behavioral therapy has also been shown to target cognitive distortions such as pain catastrophizing among other things. The objective of the review is to evaluate the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in the management of chronic pain of degenerative conditions. Methods: This review article was conducted basing on the previous studies published from 2009-2019 and data analyzed was retrieved from Google Scholar, Elsevier and Science Direct. Only the articles that looked at effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy in the management of chronic pain from a physiotherapists point were included. Results: The outcomes of the studies used varied and included reduction in pain intensity, pain disability, fear avoidance, catastrophizing and kinesophobia. The CBT approaches used across the studies also varied and included operant conditioning, biofeedback, relaxation techniques, pacing, cognitive coping techniques, graded activity and graded exposure. Conclusion: Published randomized controlled trials provide good evidence for the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy and how specific approaches may vary in effectiveness depending on the desired outcomes.