Cognitive-behavioral Treatment for Subacute and Chronic Neck Pain: A Cochrane Review

Marco Monticone, Emilia Ambrosini, Christine Cedraschi, Barbara Rocca, Roberta Fiorentini, Maddalena Restelli, Silvia Gianola, Simona Ferrante, Gustavo Zanoli, Lorenzo Moja

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This review was undertaken to determine the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy among individuals with subacute and chronic neck pain. We included 10 randomized-controlled studies and found with a low-quality evidence that cognitive-behavioral therapy can lead to some improvements on pain relief, but the effects were not clinically relevant. Study Design. Systematic review of randomized-controlled trials (RCTs). Objective. To assess the effects of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on neck pain (NP). Summary of Background Data. Although research on nonpharmacological and nonsurgical treatments for NP is progressing, there remains uncertainty about the efficacy of CBT. Methods. We searched electronic databases for RCTs. We included RCTs assessing the use of CBT on adults with subacute and chronic NP. 2 independent reviewers extracted data on pain (primary outcome), disability, psychological indicator, and quality of life. We calculated standardized mean differences and 95% confidence intervals. We used the Cochrane Collaboration's tool to assess risk of bias and the GRADE approach to evaluate the quality of evidence and summarize conclusions. Results. We included 10 studies (836 participants), 4 at low risk of bias. With regard to chronic NP, there was low quality evidence that CBT was better than no treatment for improving pain, disability, and quality of life, whereas no effect was found on kinesiophobia. The clinical importance of these benefits is uncertain. When comparing both CBT to other interventions and CBT in addition to another intervention to the other intervention alone, no difference was found for pain and disability, whereas a positive effect was achieved for kinesiophobia only when comparing CBT with other interventions. On subacute NP, CBT was found to be better than other interventions for pain, whereas no difference was found for secondary outcomes. Conclusion. CBT was shown to induce changes on pain and disability for chronic NP only when compared with no treatment. On subacute NP, benefit was found on pain relief but not on disability when comparing CBT with other interventions. However, none of these effects were clinically meaningful. Due to the low quality of the evidence, our conclusions might change over time whereas new data are available.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495-1504
Number of pages10
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2015


  • chronic neck pain
  • Cochrane back review group
  • cognitive-behavioral treatment
  • meta-analysis
  • randomized-controlled trial
  • subacute neck pain
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Cognitive-behavioral Treatment for Subacute and Chronic Neck Pain: A Cochrane Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this