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What is the effect of haptotherapy on patients with chronic pain?

17 January 2021 | Research 2021 |

Klabbers G. A., Vingerhoets A. J. J. M.
Keywords| Chronic pain| Haptotherapy| IJHH



Chronic pain is a frequent problem, has a significant impact on quality of life, mood, and sick leave, and causes high direct and indirect costs. In practice, haptotherapy seems to reduce chronic pain, but this effect has not yet been scientifically evaluated. This is the first study on the impact of haptotherapy on patients with chronic pain complaints.


The main aim of haptotherapy is to improve the wellbeing of patients, i.e., to reduce complaints of distress, anxiety, depression and somatization, to be achieved by increasing body awareness and self-awareness and by improving the sense of control regarding their complaints and their consequences for daily life.


People aged 18 or older (N=24) with chronic pain complaints for more than six weeks.

Study design:

Participants were requested to complete some questionnaires before the start of the therapy and again, approximately three and five months later. These questionnaires include sociodemographic questions and a question about the intensity of the pain they felt in the previous week, the Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire, the Scale of Body Connection, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, the Pictorial Representation of Illness and Self Measure, and the Haptotherapy questionnaire.

Statistical analysis:

The non-parametric Friedman test of differences among repeated measures was used to compare the mean outcomes at three time points: (T1) At the start of haptotherapy, (T2) three months after the start of haptotherapy, and (T3) five months after the start of haptotherapy.


The investigation had to be abruptly terminated a few months after the start, due to the professional ban on contact professions, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with limited data (n = 17), over time (T1, T2, T3), we have measured a statistically significant and clinically relevant reduction of distress, anxiety, pain catastrophizing, and increased body awareness. Further research could reveal which improvements are most beneficial for patients with chronic pain complaints.
Conclusion: One has to be careful with conclusions due to selection bias, the small number of participants, and the lack of a control group. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that haptotherapy might be a promising therapy for people with chronic pain. Further research is necessary, preferably by employing a Randomized Controlled Trial with one or more control group

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Volume 9

No. 1
  • Publication date:
    January 17, 2021
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How to cite (apa)
Klabbers, G. A., & Vingerhoets, A. J. (2021). What is the effect of haptotherapy on patients with chronic pain?. In International Journal of Haptonomy and Haptotherapy (Vol. 9, Issue 1, pp. 1-9).
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