A recent randomized multisite clinical trial found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) was significantly more effective than fibromyalgia education (FE) in reducing functional disability in adolescents with juvenile fibromyalgia (JFM). The primary objective of this study was to examine the psychological processes of CBT effectiveness by evaluating changes in pain coping, catastrophizing, and coping efficacy and to test these changes as mediators of continued improvements in functional disability and depressive symptoms at 6-month follow-up. One hundred adolescents (11-18 years old) with JFM completed the clinical trial. Coping, catastrophizing, and coping efficacy (Pain Coping Questionnaire) and the outcomes of functional disability (Functional Disability Inventory) and depressive symptoms (Children's Depression Inventory) were measured at baseline, posttreatment, and 6-month follow-up. Participants in both conditions showed significant improvement in coping, catastrophizing, and efficacy by the end of the study, but significantly greater improvements were found immediately following treatment for those who received CBT. Treatment gains were maintained at follow-up. Baseline to posttreatment changes in coping, catastrophizing, and efficacy were not found to mediate improvements in functional disability or depressive symptoms from posttreatment to follow-up. Future directions for understanding mechanisms of CBT effectiveness in adolescents with chronic pain are discussed.
CBT led to significant improvements in pain coping, catastrophizing, and efficacy that were sustained over time in adolescents with juvenile fibromyalgia. Clinicians treating adolescents with JFM should focus on teaching a variety of adaptive coping strategies to help patients simultaneously regain functioning and improve mood.