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Pain. 2003 May;103(1-2):151-6.

The social context of gastrointestinal cancer pain: a preliminary study examining the relation of patient pain catastrophizing to patient perceptions of social support and caregiver stress and negative responses.

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  • 1Pain Prevention and Treatment Research, Box 3159, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


A number of studies have shown that catastrophizing is an important predictor of pain and disability in persons having persistent pain conditions. The newly developed communal model of catastrophizing maintains that catastrophizing is a part of broader, interpersonal style of coping in which coping efforts are directed at interpersonal goals, rather than solely at pain reduction. This study examined the potential interpersonal correlates of pain catastrophizing in a sample of 70 patients having gastrointestinal cancers and their caregivers. Measures of pain catastrophizing, perceptions of social support, pain level, and pain behavior were obtained from patients. Caregivers completed measures that included their judgments about the patient's pain level, caregiver stress, and their tendency to engage in negative responses (critical or avoidant behaviors). Overall, patients who engaged in catastrophizing reported receiving higher levels of instrumental support. Caregivers of patients who catastrophized, rated the patient as having more pain and engaging in more pain behavior. Caregivers of patients who catastrophized, also reported higher levels of caregiver stress and critical behaviors. Taken together, these preliminary findings suggest that pain catastrophizing has interpersonal correlates and support the need for additional research examining the social context of pain catastrophizing.

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