Behavioral dimensions of adjustment in persons with chronic pain: Pain-related anxiety and acceptance

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APA Citation: 

McCracken, L. M., Spertus, I. L. , Janeck, A. S., Sinclair, D., & Wetzel, F. T. (1999). Behavioral dimensions of adjustment in persons with chronic pain: Pain-related anxiety and acceptance. Pain, 80, 283-289.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Chronic pain; Anxiety; Behavioral factors; Psychological assessment; Multidimensional pain inventory

Through empirical methods we now characterize patients with chronic pain as either dysfunctional, interpersonally distressed, or adaptive copers. Studying factors that differentiate these groups may reveal the behavioral processes that determine adjustment to pain. Subjects for this study were 190 patients referred for treatment of chronic pain. They were classified as dysfunctional (n = 41), interpersonally distressed (n = 28) or adaptive copers (n = 59) based on the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (Kerns, R.D., Turk, D.C. and Rudy, T.E., The West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory (WHYMPI), Pain, 23 (1985) 345 – 356) and compared on measures of pain-related anxiety and pain acceptance. Our analyses showed that the dysfunctional group reported greater pain-related anxiety and less acceptance of pain than the other groups. Additional analyses, statistically controlling for pain severity and depression, showed that the patient subtypes continued to differ on pain-related anxiety and acceptance. Discriminant function analyses including pain-related anxiety and acceptance correctly classified 72.5% of dysfunctional and 90.9% of adaptive copers. Again, anxiety and acceptance contributed uniquely to classification independent of depression and pain intensity. Pain-related anxiety and acceptance of pain appear to be unique behavioral dimensions of adjustment to chronic pain. Decreasing anxiety and increasing acceptance may ‘move’ patients with chronic pain from the dysfunctional to the adaptive coper category.

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