Effects of a self-help internet intervention in individuals with pain and depressive symptoms

Project No. FF-FR 326




The aim of the present project is to adapt a cognitive-behavioral online treatment program for depression (MOOD) developed by the Clinical Neuropsychology working group of the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (www.uke.de/agn) to the specific needs of people with chronic pain and emotional problems and to evaluate its effectiveness. It is expected that the program will lead to a reduction of the depressive and pain symptoms (moderate effect strength). Subsequently, the program will be adapted based on the findings of the study (especially feedback from participants).

The development of an online treatment program for people with pain and depression represents a low-threshold and cost-effective way to improve the health status of this subgroup and thus restore/promote the ability to work. In addition, the program can also be used for prevention. Through online training, participants learn how to deal with physical and mental stress at work. Stress management techniques are conveyed that contribute to mental health in the long term, either preventively or curatively. To date, there is no online treatment program in German that specifically treats people with chronic pain and comorbid depressive symptoms.


We plan to adapt a cognitive-behavioral online depression program (MOOD) to the disorder-specific needs of people with pain and comorbid depressive symptoms. The new program will focus on the integration of psychoeducative modules on the relationship between pain and depressive symptoms, the biopsychosocial development of pain, physical and psychosocial stress triggers and strategies on how to deal with these triggers, as well as the modification of pain-related cognitions (e.g. catastrophizing) and dysfunctional thoughts and attitudes (e.g. self-efficacy expectations regarding pain management).

The effectiveness of the intervention will be evaluated in the framework of a monocentric prospective randomized controlled trial with three measurement points (baseline/post/3-months follow-up). Data will be collected online. Patients receive an e-mail invitation to the baseline survey, after which they are randomized to one of three conditions:

  • immediate access to the pain-specific online treatment program,
  • active control group (MOOD) or
  • wait-list control group (delayed access after 3 months).

Sociodemographic data, depression (BDI-II; PHQ-9), pain symptoms (DSF), pain-related cognitions (PCS, FABQ, FSS), self-esteem (RSE), feelings of injustice (IEQ), quality of life (WHOQOL-BREF), willingness to change (URICA), treatment expectation (CEQ) and subjective evaluation of the intervention (ZUF-8) will be collected. The intervention period is 8 weeks.

Last Update:

4 Feb 2022


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

work-related health hazards, -various



Description, key words:

Pain, depression, online training