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Efficacy of a Character Strengths and Gratitude Intervention for People with Chronic Back Pain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2012

Heidi J. Baxter
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of AucklandNew ZealandDiabetes and Renal Services, Division of Medicine, Western Campus, CMDHB, Auckland, New Zealand.
Malcolm H. Johnson*
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Debbie Bean
Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, New Zealand. The Auckland Regional Pain Service, Auckland, New Zealand
Corresponding Author Malcolm H. Johnson, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Auckland, 85 Park Road, Grafton, Auckland, NZ; Email:
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This study investigated the efficacy of a character strengths and gratitude intervention to reduce pain in people with chronic back pain. Eight participants (males = 4, females = 4) took part in a cross-over multi-baseline study over 5‒7 weeks. Comparisons were made for intervention efficacy effects by contrasting a character strengths approach with a comparison condition premised on positive memories. Daily measures were used to assess mood (happiness, sadness, anger) and pain. In addition, measures of happiness, depression, anxiety, pain catastrophising and pain were collected at each phase. The results indicated improved daily happiness and significantly reduced daily anger following the character strengths and gratitude intervention. This provides preliminary evidence that daily focusing on positive aspects of one's emotional experience benefits those with chronic back pain.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2012

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