The ExACT Trial

Exercise therapy is a well established, effective treatment for individuals with chronic pain and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a promising new approach in the management of chronic pain. ACT helps people with chronic pain to focus on awareness of personal values and promotes activity that will enhance their quality of life. The aim of this study is to compare the effectiveness of a combined exercise and ACT treatment with a standalone exercise programme for people with chronic pain. One hundred and sixty people who attend a hospital pain clinic will take part in the study and will be randomly allocated to a combined exercise and ACT treatment group or a standalone exercise group. Both groups will receive treatment once a week for a period of eight weeks. The combined treatment will include ACT based psychology sessions delivered by a psychologist and supervised exercise activities (gym and water-based exercise) led by a physiotherapist. The standalone exercise group will take part in the same Physiotherapy led supervised exercise activities. Both groups will be assessed before and after treatment and again six months later. Questionnaires will be used to measure the effects of the treatment on ability to perform daily activities, pain acceptance, depression, anxiety and quality of life. Physical activity monitors will be worn to measure daily activity levels over the 8 weeks. Participants from both groups will be interviewed in order to improve understanding of how the treatments work from the patient’s point of view. This study will provide important information about the effectiveness of these treatments for chronic pain. If a significant difference is found between the two treatments, the superior one could be introduced in similar clinical environments and has the potential to positively impact the lives of people with chronic pain.


Award Date
26 May 2016
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Maire-Brid Casey
Host Institution
University College Dublin
Research Training Fellowships for Healthcare Professionals