The aim of the present study was to determine the extent to which personality and treatment experience affect patients’ appraisals of 4 complementary treatments for chronic pain. Patients and Methods: A total of 232 chronic pain patients (164 females, 68 males, average age 56.6 years) visiting a spa clinic in Austria returned a questionnaire on patient characteristics and personality (autonomy, depressiveness, assertiveness, selfcontrol) as well as attitudes towards (i.e. appealing, effective, pleasant) and experience of the treatments. Results were analysed by use of linear regression analysis and confidence intervals. Results: Although all treatments were appraised positively, the passive treatments (thermal water tub baths, classical massage) were favoured more than the active treatments (relaxation training or exercise therapy). Treatment appraisal was not predicted by any of the personality traits but to a large extent by treatment experience. Relaxing, not unpleasant treatments were the most highly esteemed treatments. How strenuous or tiring a treatment was only had a minor effect on its appraisal. Conclusions: Neither do dependent, passive patients prefer passive treatments, nor do conscientious patients prefer active treatments. Instead, the appraisal of treatments that induce specific somatosensory sensations is largely determined by treatment experiences, i.e. what the treatment feels like. Despite the popularity of CAM which encompasses many experientially intensive treatments, treatment experience has to date been a neglected topic of treatment research.

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