A study from The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine shows that a biofeedback-assisted stress-reduction program yields significant improvements in pain, psychological functioning and perceived physical functioning in lupus patients experiencing pain.. In this randomized, controlled, clinical trial, researchers from The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine examined the effects of a biofeedback-assisted stress-reduction program on pain, psychological function, and perceived physical function in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) experiencing pain.

Ninety-two SLE patients were randomly assigned to receive one of three treatment conditions: (1) biofeedback-assisted cognitive-behavioral treatment (BF/CBT), (2) a symptom-monitoring support (SMS) intervention, or (3) usual medical care (UC). Subjects were assessed for changes in pain, psychological functioning and perceived physical functioning, and again at 9-month follow-up.

The study found that the patients receiving biofeedback-assisted cognitive-behavioral treatment had significantly greater reductions in pain and psychological dysfunction, as compared with the symptom-monitoring support group (pain, P = 0.044; psychological functioning, P < 0.001) and the usual care group (pain, P = 0.028; psychological functioning, P < 0.001).

In addition the BF/CBT group had significantly greater improvement in perceived physical function, as compared with UC (P = 0.035). Improvement relative to SMS was marginally significant (P = 0.097).

At a 9-month followup evaluation, BF/CBT continued to exhibit relative benefit compared with UC in psychological functioning (P = 0.023).

The study concludes that the brief stress management program yielded short-term improvement in pain, psychological function, and perceived physical function among persons with SLE who experience pain.

Citation: Greco CM, Rudy TE, Manzi S. Effects of a stress-reduction program on psychological function, pain, and physical function of systemic lupus erythematosus patients: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2004 Aug 15;51 (4): pages 625-34. [email protected]