Psychophysical and Neural Mechanisms Contributing to Chronic Post-Surgical Pain in Adolescents and Adults

  • End date
    Feb 28, 2027
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Boston Children's Hospital
Updated on 28 October 2022


The current project will (1) enhance our understanding of the neurobiology of chronic post-surgical pain (CPSP); (2) provide a metric to follow patients with CPSP in the clinic; (3) provide a metric for those who will chronify; and (4) understand the age-related differences in CPSP. Ultimately, an improved comprehension of mechanisms linked to CPSP will provide finer tools for optimizing the selection of treatments for individual patients. Moreover, data that demonstrates the underlying pathobiological pain mechanism(s) active in CPSP, particularly those non-responsive to current therapies, may be used to validate novel strategies both pharmacological and non-pharmacological.


In this mechanistic clinical trial, participants will be randomized into either a one-day (5 hours) group workshop based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and a one-month post workshop zoom individual booster session or Treatment as Usual (TAU).

Dr. Sieberg will conduct the groups with assistance from the RA. Dr. Sieberg is a licensed clinical psychologist, who has delivered manualized ACT for chronic pain in her clinical practice. The intervention follows a manual patterned after an existing 1-day ACT intervention for chronic pain and will be adapted to meet the needs of patients with ongoing CPSP. Topics covered in the workshop include: (1) mindfulness of troublesome thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations; (2) willingness to face and accept experiences that cannot be changed; (3) identifying values; and (4) promoting behavior changes that support value-based action.

The goal of the ACT intervention is to increase awareness of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that exacerbate pain while minimizing avoidance that interferes with engagement in valued action. Participants will also receive an individually tailored 30-minute booster session via zoom one month following the workshop. During the booster session, ACT principles will be reinforced and the participant will work together with Dr. Sieberg to problem-solve and address any difficulties engaging in ACT exercises and practices.

Condition Chronic Post-surgical Pain
Treatment Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT05304286
SponsorBoston Children's Hospital
Last Modified on28 October 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

-Females and males aged 12 and older who have previously undergone surgery at least 6
months ago and have chronic post surgical pain (3 months after surgery or longer)

Exclusion Criteria

Severe cognitive impairment by history (e.g., intellectual disability, severe head
Inability to speak sufficient English or another language that can be interpreted
orally and for questionnaires with the research team
Patients with significant psychiatric disorders
Use of illegal hard drugs including MDMA, heroin, methamphetimes, amphetamines
cocaine, ketamine, benzodiazepines, and phencyclidine. Absence of such drugs will be
confirmed in a urine drug screen during the visit. If prescription medication includes
any of these compounds, that medication is not exclusionary
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If you are confirmed eligible after full screening, you will be required to understand and sign the informed consent if you decide to enroll in the study. Once enrolled you may be asked to make scheduled visits over a period of time.

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Complete your scheduled study participation activities and then you are done. You may receive summary of study results if provided by the sponsor.

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