The MAmMOTH study aims to find out if a short-course of cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT, over the telephone prevents development of chronic widespread pain (CWP) in people at high risk. 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.
Patients who visited their GP with pain and reported other symptoms which mean they are at high risk of CWP, were initially recruited from March 2015 - March 2017. Half of those taking part were then allocated to sessions of CBT on the phone with a trained therapist over a seven weeks, with booster sessions three and six months later. Sessions were specific to each individual, and participants were encouraged to identify helpful and unhelpful thoughts and feelings related to their symptoms, to find ways to overcome everyday problems, and to build in aspects of a healthy lifestyle to their daily routine. Additionally there was a control arm of the trial, where people received the care their doctor would normally provide.
Recruitment was completed at the end of March 2017 with over 1000 people taking part, and the study completed follow up in July 2019.
- What are the aims of this research?
The aim of this research project is to investigate the success of cognitive behaviour therapy by telephone in preventing the development of chronic widespread pain (CWP) in fibromyalgia patients and to assess its cost effectiveness.
- Why is this research important?
Patients with fibromyalgia commonly experience CWP in their muscles, tendons and ligaments. It is important to manage the symptoms of CWP as quickly as possible because the longer pain lasts, the less likelihood there is of being able to successfully treat it. However, CWP is very difficult to treat, so therapies which reduce the risk of a patient developing the condition are needed Previously, this research group demonstrated that when patients with CWP received a form of talking therapy called cognitive behaviour therapy by telephone, they experienced long-lasting improvements in their symptoms.
- How will this research benefit patients?
If this full trial of telephone-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy is successful, it will be the first treatment to reduce the number of patients with fibromyalgia and related conditions who develop CWP. Cognitive behavioural therapy by telephone promises to be cost-effective for the NHS so if it is found to be beneficial, it may lead to a preventative strategy which could be widely available.
- What has the study found so far?
You can read the main results of the study here:
- Macfarlane GJ, Beasley M, Scott N, et al. Maintaining musculoskeletal health using a behavioural therapy approach: a population-based randomised controlled trial (the MAmMOTH Study). Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2021;80:903-911.
Other publications from studies using study data
- Macfarlane et al. The effect of COVID19 public health restrictions on the health of people with musculoskeletal conditions and symptoms: the CONTAIN study. Rheumatology. 2021 Apr 21: keab374.
- Marcus Beasley, Neil Scott, Gareth T Jones and Gary J Macfarlane, (Poster), British Pain Society (BPS) Annual Scientific Meeting 2023, Glasgow, UK
- Marcus Beasley, John McBeth, Gareth T Jones, Karina Lovell and Gary J Macfarlane, Beliefs in a trial of treatment for pain (Poster), British Pain Society (BPS) Annual Scientific Meeting 2023, Glasgow, UK
- Study locations
- Study newsletter
Read updates from the study including staff and recruitments from our newsletter update.
- Patient manual
You can read details of the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) programme in our patient manual. Please click the link below to download.
- Contact details
Questions regarding this study can be directed to study coordinator Marcus Beasley at the following address: