A comprehensive examination of the model underlying acceptance and commitment therapy for chronic pain

Kevin E. Vowles*, Gail Sowden, Julie Ashworth

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

51 Citations (Scopus)
105 Downloads (Pure)


The therapeutic model underlying Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is reasonably well-established as it applies to chronic pain. Several studies have examined measures of single ACT processes, or subsets of processes, and have almost uniformly indicated reliable relations with patient functioning. To date, however, no study has performed a comprehensive examination of the entire ACT model, including all of its component processes, as it relates to functioning. The present study performed this examination in 274 individuals with chronic pain presenting for an assessment appointment. Participants completed a battery of self-report questionnaires, assessing multiple aspects of the ACT model, as well as pain intensity, disability, and emotional distress. Initial exploratory factor analyses examined measures of the ACT model and measures of patient functioning separately with each analysis identifying three factors. Next, the fit of a model including ACT processes on the one hand and patient functioning on the other was examined using Structural Equation Modeling. Overall model fit was acceptable and indicated moderate correlations among the ACT processes themselves, as well as significant relations with pain intensity, emotional distress, and disability. These analyses build on the existing literature by providing, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive evaluation of the ACT theoretical model in chronic pain to date.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-401
Number of pages12
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number3
Early online date03 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014


  • Acceptance and commitment therapy
  • Chronic pain
  • Functioning
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Structural equation modelling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology

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