The MAmMOTH study aims to find out if a short-course of cognitive behavioural therapy provided over the telephone will help to prevent the development of chronic widespread pain (CWP) in people considered to be at high risk. The study is being run across the UK and will be the first trial in the world that aims to prevent the onset of chronic widespread pain, which is the main feature of the common condition fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia sufferers usually experience pain all over their body as well as other symptoms such as fatigue.

It is important to manage the symptoms of CWP as quickly as possible because the longer it lasts the less chance there is of being able to successfully treat it. Therapies are needed that reduce the risk of patients developing the condition. In a previous clinical trial, we have shown that when people with CWP received CBT (often referred to as talking therapy) by telephone, they experienced long-lasting improvements in their symptoms. We are now extending that work to people at risk of CWP.

Individuals who have visited their GP with musculoskeletal pain and report other symptoms which indicate they are at high risk of CWP, will be recruited from a number of doctors’ surgeries. Half of those taking part in the trial will be randomly allocated to receive up to seven sessions of CBT on the phone with a trained therapist over a six week period, plus booster sessions three and six months later. Contents of the sessions will be specific to each individual, but will encourage participants to identify helpful and unhelpful thoughts and feelings related to their pain and other symptoms, and to find ways to overcome everyday problems caused by their symptoms and to build in aspects of a healthy lifestyle to their daily routine. Those people in the control arm of the trial will receive the care their doctor would normally provide. Researchers will determine at certain points during and after the trial how many people have developed CWP, and whether it is different in the two treatment groups.

Recruitment was completed at the end of March 2017 with over 1000 people taking part.  The study is now completed and everybody who was recruited to the study will be followed-up over the next two years.

The study, was led by Professor Gary Macfarlane at the University of Aberdeen and funded by Arthritis Research UK.