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Clinical Trial: MBCT and CBT for Chronic Pain in Multiple Sclerosis


Treatment mode of action: To reduce pain intensity
Number of Subjects: 250
Medication: mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
Location: Alabama|Alaska|Arizona|Arkansas|California|Colorado|Connecticut|Delaware|District of Columbia|Florida|Georgia|Hawaii|Idaho|Illinois|Indiana|Iowa|Kansas|Kentucky|Louisiana|Maine|Maryland|Massachusetts|Michigan|Minnesota|Mississippi|Missouri|Montana|Nebraska|Nevada|New Hampshire|New Jersey|New Mexico|New York|North Carolina|North Dakota|Ohio|Oklahoma|Oregon|Pennsylvania|Rhode Island|South Carolina|South Dakota|Tennessee|Texas|Utah|Vermont|Virginia|Washington|West Virginia|Wisconsin|Wyoming
Institutions: University of Washington Contact Information
Anna Evans
(206) 598-0501


National MS Society


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.

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. 

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.


© 2020 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.