In pain? Study finds enjoying a good book can help relieve chronic discomfort | health and fitness | Hindustan Times
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In pain? Study finds enjoying a good book can help relieve chronic discomfort

Reading has long been known for its entertainment value. But researchers now believe that it could also help to treat chronic pain for millions of people.

health and fitness Updated: Mar 03, 2017 21:29 IST
The findings showed that a literature-based intervention known as shared reading may be a beneficial therapy to cure pain.
The findings showed that a literature-based intervention known as shared reading may be a beneficial therapy to cure pain.(Shutterstock)

Reading a book may not only be captivating but may also help people suffering with chronic pain, a study shows.

Chronic pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.

The findings showed that a literature-based intervention known as shared reading may be a beneficial therapy as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy(CBT) -- a talking therapy that can help you manage your problems by changing the way you think and behave.

“Our study indicated that shared reading could potentially be an alternative to CBT in bringing into conscious awareness areas of emotional pain otherwise passively suffered by chronic pain patients,” said Josie Billington from University of Liverpool in Britain.

While, CBT allowed participants to exchange personal histories of living with chronic pain in ways which validated their experience, however, participants focused exclusively on their pain with “no thematic deviation”.

Conversely, in shared reading, the literature was a trigger to recall and express diverse life experiences -- of work, childhood, family members, relationships -- related to the entire life-span, not merely the time-period affected by pain, or the time-period pre-pain as contrasted with life in the present, the researchers noted, in the paper published in BMJ Journal for Medical Humanities.

As part of the study, participants with severe chronic pain symptoms were recruited for a 5-week CBT group and a 22-week shared reading group for chronic pain patients ran in parallel.


The results showed that CBT participants “managed” emotions by means of systematic techniques, while shared reading turned participant’s passive experience of suffering emotion into articulate contemplation of painful concerns.

“The encouragement of greater confrontation and tolerance of emotional difficulty that sharing reading provides makes it valuable as a longer-term follow-up or adjunct to CBT’s concentration on short-term management of emotion,” Billington said.

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