Evidence of the effectiveness of multidisciplinary treatment with a focus on neuropathic pain is still rare. The present study investigated whether multidisciplinary treatment leads to improvement of neuropathic pain in outcome (pain intensity and disability) and psychological (depression, pain acceptance, and catastrophizing) variables at posttreatment and 3-month follow-up. We examined whether and to what extent psychological changes can predict long-term outcome at 3-month follow-up, when other variables are controlled for (baseline characteristics and changes in pain parameters).
Patients suffering from a chronic neuropathic pain condition (n=141) attended an inpatient multidisciplinary program lasting about 15 continuous days with self-report data collected at pretreatment, posttreatment, and 3-month follow-up.
Repeated-measures ANOVAs showed a significant improvement of pain intensity, disability, pain acceptance, catastrophizing, and depression at posttreatment. These improvements remained stable over the 3-month follow-up for all variables except for depression. The inclusion of psychological changes in multiple regression analyses greatly increased the variance in outcome, explained by baseline characteristics and changes in pain parameters.
The results could help clinicians to determine which variables should be emphasized during inpatient treatment and during the follow-up period, in order to maintain the gains after an inpatient multidisciplinary treatment for neuropathic pain.
The present study demonstrates the beneficial effects of an inpatient multidisciplinary program for neuropathic pain and further question the resistant nature of neuropathic pain to treatment. The results add evidence to the relevance of cognitive-behavioral models of pain positing an important role for pain-related thoughts and emotions in long-term outcome following multidisciplinary pain treatment.