Implementing low-cost individually tailored cognitive therapy (CBT) for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain in Salford

Greater ManchesterMental Health
Start Date: 1 May 2016 End Date: 1 May 2017

The intervention

CLAHRC GM implemented and evaluated the use of individually tailored programmes of talking therapies for patients with chronic widespread pain (CWP).

This 12 month project, supported by NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) research and innovation fund aimed to improve patient care for people in Salford who experience CWP.

The aim was to harness the opportunity for service innovation by evaluating the implementation of a flexible pain pathway offering stepped care (using both high and low intensity interventions), including evidence-based, telephone-delivered talking therapy. This was delivered by specially trained Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners (PWPs) from the Salford Six Degrees Improved Access to Psychological Therapy (IAPT) service, taking account of patient preferences and ensuring that patients receive the most appropriate option(s) for treatment.

Why is it important?

CWP is a major public health problem as it affects between 11 and 13% of the population. It is largely referred to as pain that persists for more than three months. It is known that CWP is associated with lost work productivity, mental ill health, reduced quality of life and high healthcare costs.

Previous research conducted under controlled conditions by the Universities of Aberdeen and Manchester has shown that a short course of telephone-administered cognitive behavioural therapy (8 sessions with a total therapist time of 4.5 hours) resulted in improvements which were sustained over 24 months in patients experiencing CWP. It is highly cost-effective and has the potential to facilitate faster access to talking therapies for patients with CWP. However, this approach has not yet been implemented into routine practice.  

Telephone-delivered talking therapy is convenient and offers the potential of making the therapy available to a much wider range of patients.


NHS Salford CCG
Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Six Degrees

Prof Karina Lovell