Positive psychological interventions and chronic non-cancer pain: A systematic review of the literature

Document Type

Journal Article


Springer International Publishing


School of Arts and Humanities




Iddon, J. E., Dickson, J. M., & Unwin, J. (2016). Positive Psychological Interventions and Chronic Non-Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review of the Literature. International Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 1-25.

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Chronic pain is a multi-faceted, pervasive condition associated with significant psychosocial impairment. Positive psychological interventions (PPIs) are increasingly delivered in clinical settings, with recent research offering evidence supporting the application of PPIs in predominantly mental-health contexts. To date, no review has considered the impact of PPIs applied in physical-health settings. The aim of this systematic review is to collate the available evidence and identify psychosocial factors that can be improved via PPIs for individuals with chronic non-cancer pain. Particularly, the review focuses upon study outcomes considered to be conceptually-aligned with the aims of such interventions. A systematic search of five electronic databases was conducted utilising terms relating to chronic pain, positive psychological constructs and intervention outcomes. A total of 3289 articles were considered as part of the identification process. Eight studies were included in the final review upon de-duplication and application of the review exclusion criteria. The effects of PPIs and methodological quality of studies varied greatly, though improvements in psychological well-being, hope, pain self-efficacy, happiness and life-satisfaction were evident. The results demonstrate PPIs can have beneficial effects for individuals living with chronic non-cancer pain. Methodological limitations, clinical implications and recommendations regarding future research are discussed.



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