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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 1, 2012

Acceptance and commitment therapy for fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled trial

  • G.L. Olsson , M. Kemani , K. Jensen , E. Kosek , D. Kadetoff , K. Sorjonen , M. Ingvar and R. Wicksell



Recent developments within cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) have emphasized the utility of acceptance and mindfulness strategies, contrasting interventions focused on reduction or control of symptoms. A study of fMRI changes after CBT in females with fibromyalgia (FM) has been performed and results are presented elsewhere (under review). The aim of the present study was evaluate the effectiveness of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-based intervention for patient diagnosed with FM in comparison with a wait-list control


Female patients aged 18–55 years, fulfilling the American College of Rheumatology classification criteria for FM, and with a weekly self-reported average pain intensity of >40 (VAS 0–100) were considered eligible for inclusion. Participants completed a set of questionnaires prior to treatment, immediately following the treatment and at follow 3–4 months post treatment. Primary outcome variable was pain disability (PDI). FIQ, SF36, SES, STAI, pain intensity, BDI, PIPS (psychological inflexibility in pain scale) were also used. The ACT-intervention consisted of twelve weekly group sessions, ten with psychologist and two with pain physician. Treatment was evaluated and mediation analyses were performed.


Primary outcome measure (PDI): A significant improvement in pain disability for ACT in relation to the control condition, p < 0.001. Secondary outcome measures: ACT showed significant improvement in mental health quality of life, self-efficacy, depression, and anxiety. Consistent with hypotheses, ACT did not result in significant changes in either physical quality of life or pain intensity. Mediation analyses: A decrease in psychological inflexibility from pre to post assessments significantly mediated the improvement in pain disability.


The present study supports the utility of using a relatively brief ACT intervention in a group format for women diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and data suggests a mediating function on improvements in psychological flexibility.

Published Online: 2012-07-01
Published in Print: 2012-07-01

© 2012 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

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