University of Coimbra researchers create program to help deal with chronic pain

This post is also available in: Português (Portuguese (Portugal))

A team of researchers from the University of Coimbra (UC) has developed an innovative psychotherapeutic program for people with chronic pain, a health problem that affects about 37% of the Portuguese population.

It is called iACTwithPain, it is available on a digital platform designed for this purpose – https://iact.isr.uc.pt – and it was developed by researchers from the Center for Research in Neuropsychology and Cognitive-Behavioral Intervention (CINEICC) and the Institute of Systems and Robotics, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences (FPCEUC) and Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra (FCTUC), respectively.

Essentially, this third generation psychological intervention program, in online format, aims to promote the development of pain management and emotional self-regulation skills, in order to reduce the impact of pain and improve the quality of life of people who suffer this pathology. It lasts eight weeks and includes two moments of follow-up – at 3 and 6 months after the completion of the intervention.

“The intervention consists of 8 modules, each lasting about 20 minutes, available once a week. Participants are guided, throughout the intervention, using explanatory and animated videos or with the therapists themselves (or their avatars) on topics related to pain management and associated emotional and cognitive responses, through the practice of exercises guided and meditative experiences”, describes Paula Castilho, project coordinator.

At the end of each module, the practice of exercises related to the topic addressed is suggested and a short questionnaire about the session and its impact is requested. Progression in the program “depends on the completion of each of the modules. Continued and committed practice is fundamental to the effectiveness of the intervention, so the participants will be encouraged and motivated by sending a message, via email, once a week, between each session to practice/train the competences taught”, stresses Paula Castilho.

Now, the team intends to validate the effectiveness of this program. Therefore, it is asking for the collaboration of people diagnosed with chronic pain in the last three months, aged between 18 and 50 years, who have access to the internet and who are not involved in another form of psychological intervention for pain. chronic. Eligibility for participation in the program will be assessed using self-answer questionnaires made available on the platform, once each volunteer has read and accepted the informed consent after registering.

At the end of the study, co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), participants who will be distributed in the control group will have the possibility to fully enjoy the iACTwithPain program.

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