Affect School for chronic benign pain patients showed improved alexithymia assessments with TAS-20

Melin, Eva O.; Thulesius, Hans O.; Persson, Bengt A.
January 2010
BioPsychoSocial Medicine;2010, Vol. 4, p5
Academic Journal
Background: Alexithymia is a disturbance associated with psychosomatic disorders, pain syndromes, and a variety of psychiatric disorders. The Affect School (AS) based on Tomkins Affect Theory is a therapy focusing on innate affects and their physiological expressions, feelings, emotions and scripts. In this pilot study we tried the AS-intervention method in patients with chronic benign pain. Methods: The AS-intervention, with 8 weekly group sessions and 10 individual sessions, was offered to 59 patients with chronic non-malignant pain at a pain rehabilitation clinic in Sweden 2004-2005. Pre and post intervention assessments were done with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale (HAD), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS- 20), the Visual Analogue Scale for pain assessment (VAS-pain), the European Quality of Life health barometer (EQoL) and the Stress and Crisis Inventory-93 (SCI-93). After the group sessions we used Bergdahl's Questionnaire for assessing changes in interpersonal relations, general well-being and evaluation of AS. Results: The AS intervention was completed by 54 out of 59 (92%) patients. Significant reductions in total TAS-20 posttest scores (p = 0.0006) as well as TAS-20 DIF and DDF factors (Difficulties Identifying Feelings, and Difficulties Describing Feelings) were seen (p = 0.0001, and p = 0.0008) while the EOT factor (Externally Oriented Thinking) did not change. Improvements of HAD-depression scores (p = 0.04), EQoL (p = 0.02) and self-assessed changes in relations to others (p < 0.001) were also seen. After Bonferroni Correction for Multiple Analyses the TAS-20 test score reduction was still significant as well as Bergdahl's test after group sessions. The HAD, EQoL, SCI-93, and VAS-pain scores were not significantly changed. The AS-intervention was ranked high by the participants. Conclusions: This pilot study involving 59 patients with chronic benign pain indicates that the alexithymia DIF and DDF, as well as depression, social relations and quality of life may be improved by the Affect School therapeutic intervention.


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