Harnessing group composition-related effects in pain management programs: a review and recommendations

Written by Dianne Wilson, Shylie Mackintosh, Michael K Nicholas & G Lorimer Moseley

Cognitive–behavioral therapy, an effective management strategy for chronic pain, is frequently conducted in groups. Although clinicians often report ‘knowing when a group will go well or badly’, investigations of the effect that group composition might have on outcomes is lacking. Conceptual models, explanatory theories and experiments have been developed in fields of psychotherapy, organizational, social and educational psychology, but there has been no attempt to take on this issue in our field. The current hypothesis-generating review synthesizes these substantial bodies of literature to identify common themes across fields and integrate them with current concepts of cognitive–behavioral therapy-based pain management. We present a putative conceptual model with testable hypotheses relating to features of each group as a whole, the individuals in that group and the group’s leader.

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