Nursing homes can enhance pain management with cognitive behavioral therapy, new guidelines say

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Nursing home residents in chronic pain may benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), according to new guidelines on managing pain in older people.

Giving long-term care providers a new reference tool to help manage residents' pain, the British Geriatric Society and British Pain Society collaborated on the comprehensive set of guidelines. The guidelines are based on an “extensive systematic review of the available literature,” and appear in the journal Age and Ageing.

Psychological factors play an important role in pain management, but few studies have been done focusing on geriatric populations, according to the guideline authors. However, they singled out CBT as “effective in decreasing chronic pain in adults and improving disability and mood.” CBT involves talking about negative thoughts and creating more effective response patterns.

CBT also plays a role in motivating older people to undertake physical activities to lessen pain, according to the guidelines.

Residents may not be the only ones to benefit from CBT — a 2012 study  in Applied Nursing Research showed CBT reduced nurses' stress and burnout.

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