Clinical Neuroscience

A clinical study of an online educational programme for chronic pain patients

GALAMBOS Wellingerné Krisztina1, SZOK Délia2, CSABAI Márta1

NOVEMBER 30, 2019

Clinical Neuroscience - 2019;72(11-12)


Background - The research of alexithymia - the inability to express or understand emotions - has recently become of great importance in clinical practice, mainly in the field of doctor-patient and psychologist patient communication. Many studies have proven the correlation between alexithymia and the development of functional somatic symptoms, i.e. somatization. Purpose - The aim of this clinical study was to examine the emotion-recognition and emotion communication patterns of patients suffering from chronic pain (e.g., headache, low back pain, arthralgia, neuropathy). Moreover, the participants received access to the Hungarian adaptation of a new international online educational site ( dealing with pain management. Methods - Data were collected from the Headache and Chronic Pain Outpatient Clinic, Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Szeged, Hungary (tertiary care - Group 1) and from a general practice in district 2, Budapest, Hungary (primary care - Group 2) from March, 2017 to April, 2018. Patients received a test package containing a pain-specific questionnaire, then the Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale (DERS), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), and the shortened Hungarian version of the WHO-Well-being (WBI-5) had to be completed. After filling out the questionnaires, all patients got access to the Hungarian adaptation of the website. Results - Altogether 92 patients participated in the study (Group 1 n=50; Group 2 n=42). Based on the TAS-20 re­sults, 35 patients reached a pathological score (≥60 points), which indicates the diagnosis of alexithymia. The mean TAS-score was lower in Group 2 (primary care) than in Group 1 (tertiary care) (p=0.003). The DERS disclosed pathological results in 19 cases (p=0.009). As regards the chapters, we received feedback only from 25 out of 92 patients (27%) (Group 1 n=20; Group 2 n=5). Conclusions - Although the examined patients have been suffering from different chronic pain syndromes for years and 50% of them confirmed that symptoms placed at least moderate or heavy burden on their everyday life, the available educational programme was studied only by a smaller proportion of patients than expected. Additionally, those who surveyed the Hungarian adaptation of the website were mainly patients from primary care (Group 2), in spite of the fact that patients from specialized medical care (Group 1) had worse subjective conditions. Our future objective is to extend our database with follow-up results and to improve patients’ response willingness.


  1. Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Arts, University of Szeged, Szeged
  2. Department of Neurology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Szeged, Szeged



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