Number of cases campus Landau: 1 (warning level Gelb until 01.02.2021) Action plan

The effectiveness of exposure treatments for chronic pain

Period: Jan 20, 2021 - Jan 20, 2021
Status: laufend

Traditional Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for chronic pain, including activity pacing, cognitive restructuring and relaxation or biofeedback is effective, but there is room for improvement especially concerning the reduction of pain related disability. There has been a call for more focused, tailored chronic pain treatments specifically addressing subgroups of pain patients in hope of achieving better results. To date, however, there is no empirical evidence as to whether pain interventions specifically tailored for particular subgroups or specific problems  are in fact more effective than traditional, broad-spectrum cognitive behavioral treatments.

Sixteen years ago, a new treatment, graded in vivo exposure for chronic low back pain (“Exposure”) was developed, focusing on a subgroup of individuals with chronic back pain who avoid activity due to fear of harm. In a series of studies using different designs and methods (RCTs, multicenter trials, singe case designs, systematic reviews, metaanlyses) we investigate the effectiveness of Exposure Treatment for chronic low back pain. We are also interested in underlying treatment process, more and less effective treatment components, different setting and the optimal treatment dosage.

Project partner

Winfried Rief, University of Marburg
Johan Vlaeyen, Leuven & Maastricht Universities
Jeroen De Jong, Maastricht University Hospital

Steven Linton, Örebro University
Ulrike Bingel, Essen University Hospital


Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft



Preregistration: Study 1 / Study 2

Glombiewski, J.A. (2018). Exposure therapy for chronic back pain (2018). Der Schmerz. DOI:10.1007/s00482-018-0311-9

Schemer, L., Vlaeyen, J. W. S., Doerr, J. M., Skoluda, N., Nater, U. M., Rief, W., Glombiewski, J.A. (2018). Treatment processes during exposure and cognitive-behavioral therapy for chronic back pain: A single-case experimental design with multiple baselines. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 108, 58-67.

Glombiewski, J.A., Holzapfel, S., Riecke, J., Vlaeyen, J., De Jong, J., Lemmer, G. & Rief, W. (2018) Exposure and CBT for Chronic Back Pain: An RCT on Differential Efficacy and Optimal Length of Treatment. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86(6), 533-545.

Riecke, J., Holzapfel, S., Rief, W., & Glombiewski, J. A. (2013). Evaluation and implementation of graded in vivo exposure for chronic low back pain in a German outpatient setting: A study protocol of a randomized controlled trial. Trials, 14(1), 203.