Artificial intelligence is becoming more common in many areas of our society. One area that we may start to see more of it is in the medical community, including when it comes to the management of chronic pain. Researchers recently put artificial intelligence to the test in helping people with managing their chronic pain, and the results turned up a promising outlook for those who may have difficulty accessing a therapist.
Cognitive pain therapy intervention can play an important role in helping people who suffer from chronic pain. Our thoughts regarding pain and what we are experiencing can influence the severity of pain that we experience and how well we manage through it. Having access to a therapist who can assist chronic pain patients with cognitive pain therapy can be a challenge for some people. This leads to people not receiving the therapy they could benefit from or not finishing treatment altogether.
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Using artificial intelligence (AI) in place of a therapist for the cognitive pain therapy intervention is something that has been put to the test. Researchers conducted a study to see how the use of AI-assisted patients compared to working with a therapist. They reported the results of their research in the August 2022 issue of JAMA International .
The study included 278 patients from the Department of Veterans Affairs who have chronic back pain. They each received 10 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy for the chronic pain, with some receiving AI and some speaking with a therapist. They measured the results at three months and six months and found that those who were receiving the AI cognitive behavioral treatment had greater meaningful improvement. They also found that AI therapy required half the amount of time than the therapy involving speaking with a therapist.
The AI therapy results were not inferior to the therapist-delivered telephone sessions and, at times, were even better. With it only taking half the amount of time per session and being even more accessible to people, AI therapy may be an option in the future that becomes more popular. People will be able to receive the therapy they need without having to spend as much time on the phone, and they will have better access to help.
Adding AI therapy as an option to help people who have chronic pain could be an essential step in providing patient-centered care that is effective. More people will be able to be served, it will be more convenient, and helps to reduce the costs of care. This is one more option in the quest to help provide effective chronic pain management tools.
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- JAMA International. Patient-Centered Pain Care Using Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Health Tools.
This article was originally published on Confronting Chronic Pain by Dr. Steven Richeimer, Director Pain Medicine Master and Certificate.