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This quasi-experimental study investigates the effects of relaxation compared to relaxation combined with rational emotive therapy on mood states and pain. Subjects were 34 middle-aged and elderly chronic pain sufferers (26 women, eight men; mean age of 61.06 years). The relaxation group was given training in progressive muscle relaxation with guided imagery, while the relaxation with rational emotive therapy group participated in exercises to dispute irrational cognitions in favour of counter-cognitions that were more adaptive to pain. The Profile of Mood States (POMS) and visual analogue scale provided self-report data on mood and pain, respectively. Only subjects in the relaxation with rational emotive therapy group exhibited significant change following treatment - specifically, reductions in tension-anxiety, fatigue-inertia, and depression-dejection measures of the POMS scale. However, no comparable change was found in visual analogue scale ratings of pain for either group. The relative efficacy of relaxation with rational emotive therapy over relaxation alone in the improvement of mood can be explained by the fact that chronic pain patients typically experience affective distress, and rational emotive therapy by design, targets the cognitions responsible for such affective distress.
This document has been peer reviewed.