• biopsychosocial;
  • chronic pain management;
  • psychological approaches

Aims and objectives.  The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the theoretical basis and application of psychological interventions used in the management of chronic pain. In doing this, psychological factors mediating pain and disability will also be reviewed.

Background.  A biopsychosocial model of chronic pain is widely purported and pain management is often based upon cognitive–behavioural principles as psychological factors meditating pain and disability have been found to include emotional, cognitive and behavioural components.

Conclusions.  This paper provides support for a biopsychosocial model of and for the effectiveness and efficacy of psychological interventions for the management of chronic pain conditions.

Relevance to clinical practice.  The application of psychological approaches to chronic pain management is reviewed and discussed. The way in which psychological approaches may be integrated specifically into nursing management of chronic pain is discussed in a later paper.