Positive activities, such as increasing supportive emotions, can reduce body discomfort in adults with mild to moderate chronic pain, according to research reported in The Journal of Pain, the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society, www.amercianpainsociety.org.
In a multi-center study led by VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, participants with at least mild to moderate pain were randomly assigned to complete zero, two, or six positive activities over six weeks. Follow-up assessments were collected at the end of six weeks and at one, three and six months after intervention.
The researchers hypothesized that participants randomly assigned to complete two, four or six positive activities would show greater reductions in bodily pain after the intervention compared to those assigned to perform no activities. This is the first study to assess the long-term impact of completing multiple positive activities in people with mild to moderate pain.
Subject recruitment and instructions in positive activities all occurred via a website developed for this project. Examples of the recommended positive activities included identifying three good things that went well each day and dwelling on them, focusing intensely on positive experiences two to three times a day, and practicing how to respond positively to good news shared by others.
Results showed that subjects assigned to complete at least four positive activities reported less bodily pain after the intervention than those in the zero-activities control group. The reduction in bodily pain persisted six months after completion of the intervention.
The authors concluded that teaching very simple, evidence-based, positive activities administered online can lead to lasting reductions in bodily pain. Further, the study demonstrates that positive activities administered over the internet offer practical pain management strategies at very low cost with high sustainability.
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