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MS Trial Alert: Investigators Recruiting People with MS Nationwide To Test Approaches to Manage Chronic Pain

January 29, 2019

SUMMARY: Investigators at the University of Washington are recruiting 250 people with MS who have chronic pain for a clinical trial testing two non-pharmacological approaches to managing MS-related pain. This study is funded by the National MS Society.

Rationale: Chronic pain is a disabling and persistent symptom associated with MS, and it has been linked with poorer health, depression, sleep disruption, inactivity, and problems with work and social life. Currently, drugs used to treat pain rarely provide complete relief and often involve unwanted side effects. One non-pharmacologic approach to pain management, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), has been shown to reduce pain intensity in people with MS. This therapy focuses on reducing negative pain-related thoughts and coping behaviors. Another approach, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), integrates mindfulness meditation within a CBT-oriented framework to address not only unhelpful thoughts and behaviors but also things such as attentional control, decoupling of attention from emotion, and meditative behavior.

Eligibility and Details: Researchers are recruiting participants nationwide who are diagnosed with any form of MS, are 18 years of age or older, and have chronic pain. (Chronic pain is defined as daily pain for more than three months with an average pain intensity greater than 3 on the 0-10 numerical rating scale.) Participants should have access to and be able to communicate over the telephone, and a computer or digital device (any operating system) with internet access. Further enrollment criteria are available from the contact below.

Participants will undergo telephone assessments, and then will be randomly assigned to receive MBCT, CBT, or “usual care” (whatever treatments are already being used) as a control group. Those assigned to the usual care group will be given an opportunity to receive the intervention later. The interventions will be delivered using 90-minute videoconferencing sessions that allow participants to see and hear one another and also to see visual information (such as slides). The sessions will occur weekly for eight weeks. Primary (pain intensity) and secondary outcomes (including depression, fatigue, and sleep) will be assessed before, during and right after treatment, and 12 weeks later.

Contact: To learn more about the enrollment criteria for this study, and to find out if you are eligible to participate, please contact this team via email at, or telephone, (855) 320-8230.

Download a brochure that discusses issues to think about when considering enrolling in an MS clinical trial (PDF).

Without participants in research studies, MS research would come to a standstill. Read more here.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis, and there is currently no cure for MS. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and it affects women three times more than men.


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