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Pain. 2009 Dec 15;147(1-3):29-35. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2009.07.019. Epub 2009 Aug 27.

Active avoidance but not activity pacing is associated with disability in fibromyalgia.

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Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


Activity pacing has been suggested as a behavioural strategy that may protect patients with fibromyalgia (FM) against activity dysregulation and disability. The aim of the present study was to empirically test whether the construct of activity pacing is distinct from other behavioural strategies assessed with the Chronic Pain Coping Inventory (CPCI), such as guarding, resting, asking for assistance, relaxation, task persistence, exercise/stretch, seeking social support, and coping self-statements. The second objective was to test whether pacing was associated with physical disability when controlling for pain catastrophizing, pain severity and the other behavioural strategies as measured with CPCI. A random sample of patients with FM (N=409) completed the CPCI, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), the Physical Index of the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ-PH) and the Pain Disability Index (PDI). The results demonstrated that the Dutch version of the CPCI including the pacing subscale has adequate internal consistency and construct validity. Moreover, guarding and asking for assistance, but not pacing, were associated with disability. These findings are in line with fear-avoidance models and suggest that specifically active avoidance behaviours are detrimental in FM. The authors recommend developing cognitive-behavioural and exposure-based interventions and challenge the idea that pacing as an intervention is essential in pain self-management programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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