Brief cognitive-behavioral audiotape interventions for cancer-related pain: Immediate but not long-term effectiveness

Karen O. Anderson, Marlene Z. Cohen, Tito R. Mendoza, Hong Guo, Margaret T. Harle, Charles S. Cleeland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Few studies have evaluated cognitive-behavioral interventions as an adjunct treatment for chronic cancer-related pain. A randomized clinical trial was performed evaluating the efficacy of 3 brief cognitive-behavioral techniques: relaxation, distraction, and positive mood interventions. METHODS. Fifty-seven patients with chronic cancer-related pain taking opioid medications were randomly assigned to either the relaxation, distraction, positive mood, or waiting-list control group. The patients in the 3 intervention groups received audiotapes of the cognitive-behavioral technique and were asked to practice regularly at home. The tapes were supplemented with written instructions and follow-up telephone calls. RESULTS. Patients in the relaxation and distraction groups reported significantly reduced pain intensity immediately after listening to the tapes. The pain reduction was not maintained, however. At the 2-week follow-up assessment, no significant differences in pain intensity or interference were found among the treatment groups. The groups also did not differ with regard to secondary outcome measures assessing quality of life, mood, self-efficacy, and other symptoms. The results of qualitative interviews indicated that patients often had difficulty focusing on the audiotapes and preferred their own methods of pain reduction. CONCLUSIONS. Brief relaxation and distraction audiotape interventions produced immediate pain reductions but not longer-term pain relief. Additional research with a more individualized intervention is needed to evaluate cognitive-behavioral interventions for cancer pain control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-214
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006


  • Cancer pain
  • Cognitive-behavioral
  • Distraction
  • Mood
  • Relaxation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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