Original Report| Volume 15, ISSUE 5, P560-567, May 2014

Reduction of Bodily Pain in Response to an Online Positive Activities Intervention

Published:February 24, 2014DOI:


      Inducing temporary positive states reduces pain and increases pain tolerance in laboratory studies. We tested whether completing positive activities in one's daily life produces long-term reductions in self-reported bodily pain in a randomized controlled trial of an online positive activities intervention. Participants recruited via the Web were randomly assigned to complete 0, 2, 4, or 6 positive activities administered online over a 6-week period. Follow-up assessments were collected at the end of 6 weeks and at 1, 3, and 6 months postintervention. We used linear mixed effects models to examine whether the intervention reduced pain over time among those who had a score <67 on the bodily pain subscale of the Short Form-36 at baseline (N = 417; pain scores range from 0 to 100; higher scores indicate less pain). Mean pain scores improved from baseline to 6 months in the 2-activity (55.7 to 67.4), 4-activity (54.2 to 71.0), and 6-activity (50.9 to 67.9) groups. Improvements were significantly greater (P < .05) in the 4-activity and 6-activity groups than in the 0-activity control group (54.1 to 62.2) in unadjusted and adjusted models. This study suggests that positive activities administered online can reduce bodily pain in adults with at least mild to moderate baseline pain.


      This study demonstrates that teaching people simple positive activities can decrease reported levels of bodily pain; moreover, these activities can be administered over the internet, a potential avenue for broadly disseminating health interventions at relatively low costs and with high sustainability.

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