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Pain. 2003 Nov;106(1-2):19-25.

Social environment moderates the association between catastrophizing and pain among persons with a spinal cord injury.

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  • 1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Box 356490, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA 98195-6490, USA. nicholas.giardino@uc.edu


Catastrophizing, or exaggerating the negative consequences of a situation, is associated with higher pain intensity, emotional distress, and functional disability among persons with chronic pain. According to the 'communal coping' model, catastrophizing in persons with pain may function as a social communication directed toward obtaining social proximity, support, or assistance. We tested the hypothesis, based on this model, that social factors would moderate the association between catastrophizing and sensory and affective pain. Seventy-four persons with a spinal cord injury and chronic pain completed measures of catastrophizing, solicitousness, depression, and sensory and affective pain before beginning a randomized controlled medication trial. Catastrophizing was significantly associated with solicitousness and pain reports. The association between catastrophizing and sensory pain scores was stronger for those who lived with a spouse or partner than for those who lived with someone else. In addition, there was a stronger association between catastrophizing and affective pain for those who reported greater solicitousness in their relationship. The results provide partial support for the communal coping model of catastrophizing.

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