Combining biofeedback and Narrative Exposure Therapy for persistent pain and PTSD in refugees: a pilot study

Morina, Naser; Maier, Thomas; Bryant, Richard; Knaevelsrud, Christine; Wittmann, Lutz; Rufer, Michael; Schnyder, Ulrich; Müller, Julia
January 2012
European Journal of Psychotraumatology;2012, Vol. 3, Special section p1
Academic Journal
Objective: Many traumatised refugees suffer from both persistent pain and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To date, no specific guidelines exist for treatment of this group of patients. This paper presents data on a pilot treatment study conducted with 15 traumatised refugees with persistent pain and PTSD. Methods: Participants received 10 sessions of pain-focused treatment with biofeedback (BF) followed by 10 sessions of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET). Structured interviews and standardised questionnaires were used to assess symptoms of pain intensity, pain disability, PTSD and quality of life directly before and after treatment and at 3 months follow-up. Results: Following the combined intervention, participants showed a significant reduction in both pain and PTSD symptoms, as well as improved quality of life. Additionally, biofeedback increased motivation for subsequent trauma-focused therapy, which in turn was related to larger PTSD treatment gains. Conclusion: This pilot study provides initial evidence that combining BF and NET is safe, acceptable, and feasible in patients with co-morbid persistent pain and PTSD.


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