Assessing pain management strategies with the TFA model

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Virginia Tech

The major purpose of this study was to determine chronic pain patient's differential use and perceived effectiveness of various cognitive, affective and psychomotor treatment strategies used in the management of pain. Utilizing the TFA System (tm) to determine patient's behavior patterns, a second goal was to determine if treatments were more effective when they matched the behavior pattern. The TFA System is a systematic and integrated approach using thinking (T), feeling (F) and acting (A) components which provides a chance for individual and situation specificity in a treatment situation.

The major research questions were addressed through empirical results obtained from a volunteer sample of 39 chronic back pain patients.

Five thinking, five feeling, and eight acting treatment methods were examined. T methods were used by slightly more than 50% of the patients, and had the highest frequency of monthly use. F methods were the least used, and had the lowest frequency of use even among those who did use then. Only half of the A methods were used by most of the chronic pain patients, but these were used rather often in a month. Effectiveness for all methods was viewed as being relatively moderate, irrespective of use, with spirituality being perceived as being most effective. Overall, the majority of subjects were not successful in their pain management.

Furthermore, there was no relationship between success and personal outlook when a published scale was used to categorize subjects as optimistic or pessimistic. However, based on a self-categorization, almost all the pessimists were not successful, while self-proclaimed optimists were equally likely to be successful as not.

There was no apparent relationship between chronic pain patient's behavior profiles and type of treatment methods used. Individual's TFA patterns did not "match" the methods being used to deal with their pain. Overall, no significant differences were revealed in type of treatment method used depending on the demographic characteristics of gender, age, income, education and marital status.

Recommendations for both future research and clinical practice were presented.