Pilot study to evaluate Dance Movement Psychotherapy (the BodyMind Approach) in patients with medically unexplained symptoms : Participant and facilitator perceptions and a summary discussion
The principle objective of the study was to explore and systematically analyse whether participants with medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) changed their perception of their bodily symptoms, and received any other benefits from their perspective, following a 12-week group using the BodyMind Approach (BMA) derived from Dance Movement Psychotherapy (DMP) (Payne, 1992, 2006a). The study recruited patients with chronic (over 2 years) MUS accompanied by moderate anxiety/depression. This was a cross-over study design in which participants acted as their own control. Quantitative data from standardised instruments, self reports on GP visits and medication, as well as qualitative data through semi-structured interviews with participants, were collected pre, post and at 3-month follow-up. Facilitator's process recordings were also examined in a comparative analysis to elicit similarities and differences in perceptions of the process. Participants were recruited from primary care and the intervention was undertaken in a community setting at the primary-community care interface. Findings demonstrated that this intervention, particularly due to its supportive nature in a group facilitated by a qualified movement psychotherapist, enabled participants to increase their activity levels, reduce bodily symptom distress, increase self-management of health, improve overall well-being and make positive changes in their lives (Payne, 2009a; Payne & Stott, 2009). In addition, medication was reduced or stabilised and further GP visits were rare. All outcomes were sustained at the 3-month follow-up. This study has demonstrated that patients with MUS can benefit significantly from an approach which intentionally uses the body-mind inter-relationship to promote change in perceptions and behaviour in self managed health care. The BMA approach is seen as successful when both participants' responses and clinical process recordings are analysed. Recommendations revolve around the need for further research in a phase two type study with an additional control 'treatment as usual' arm.