Article Text

Download PDFPDF
A comparative study of cognitive behavioural therapy and shared reading for chronic pain
  1. Josie Billington1,
  2. Grace Farrington2,
  3. Sofia Lampropoulou3,
  4. Jamie Lingwood4,
  5. Andrew Jones5,
  6. James Ledson5,
  7. Kate McDonnell2,
  8. Nicky Duirs5,
  9. Anne-Louise Humphreys6
  1. 1 Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS), Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  2. 2 The Reader, Liverpool, UK
  3. 3 School of English, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  4. 4 Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  5. 5 Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, Liverpool, UK
  6. 6 Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Josie Billington, Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS), Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, Room 213 Whelan Building, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GB, UK; jbilling{at}


The case for psychosocial interventions in relation to chronic pain, one of the most common health issues in contemporary healthcare, is well-established as a means of managing the emotional and psychological difficulties experienced by sufferers. Using mixed methods, this study compared a standard therapy for chronic pain, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), with a specific literature-based intervention, shared reading (SR) developed by national charity, The Reader. A 5-week CBT group and a 22-week SR group for patients with chronic pain ran in parallel, with CBT group members joining the SR group after the completion of CBT. In addition to self-report measures of positive and negative affect before and after each experience of the intervention, the 10 participants kept twice-daily (12-hourly) pain and emotion diaries. Qualitative data were gathered via literary-linguistic analysis of audio/video-recordings and transcriptions of the CBT and SR sessions and video-assisted individual qualitative interviews with participants. Qualitative evidence indicates SR's potential as an alternative or long-term follow-up or adjunct to CBT in bringing into conscious awareness areas of emotional pain otherwise passively suffered by patients with chronic pain. In addition, quantitative analysis, albeit of limited pilot data, indicated possible improvements in mood/pain for up to 2 days following SR. Both findings lay the basis for future research involving a larger sample size.

  • Pain management

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Contributors JB conceived the study and submitted the proposal for funding and ethics approval. GF and JL collected data. JB, GF and SL analysed qualitative elements of the study. GF, JL, A-LH, AJ, JL designed and analysed quantitative elements of the study. All authors contributed to the report on which this article is based. JB wrote the latter, with critical amendments made to subsequent drafts by all contributors. All authors approve the final version.

  • Funding The study was funded by the British Academy Small Grants Scheme, grant number SG131956.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Liverpool Central NHS Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.