Trial of Desipramine, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Placebo for Low Back Pain Relief Interview with:
Thomas Rutledge, PhD, ABPP
Staff Psychologist, VA San Diego Healthcare System
Professor of Psychiatry
UC San Diego  What is the background for this study?

Response: The goal of this study was to combine our team’s pharmacy, psychiatry, and psychology expertise with chronic pain to conduct a rigorous, head-to-head efficacy trial. The clinical trial literature for chronic back pain is enormous. On the surface, this literature suggests that many medication and pain psychology treatments are effective by standards of statistical significance. These findings are difficult to interpret, however, because there are few trials comparing statistically effective chronic back pain treatments with active control treatments and nearly no trials randomizing patients with chronic back pain to medication versus pain psychology treatments. We hoped that our trial could offer data to help fill these gaps. Mindful of the increasing concerns about long-term opioid use for chronic pain, we also believed the study could have value by focusing on non-opioid agents (Desipramine) and cognitive behavioral therapy.