Send to

Choose Destination
Eur J Pain. 2012 Feb;16(2):239-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpain.2011.07.009.

The effect of validating and invalidating communication on satisfaction, pain and affect in nurses suffering from low back pain during a semi-structured interview.

Author information

Center for Health and Medical Psychology, Örebro University, Sweden.


When physicians interview patients with ambiguous or nonspecific symptoms, they often try to reassure them with the purpose of explaining that no dangerous illness or disease is causing the symptoms. Unfortunately the evidence suggests that patients with benign (back) pain instead feel misunderstood, frustrated and unsatisfied with the consultation. Validation is a communication method that focuses on understanding and empathy as a platform for problem solving and it may be applicable for interviews in medical settings. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of validation on patient satisfaction, pain and affect. To this end 28 nurses with (re)current back pain were recruited and randomly assigned to be interviewed in a validating or invalidating condition. Patient satisfaction, affect, pain, disability, pain catastrophizing, and fear of movement were assessed immediately after the interview. The results show that the participants in the validated group were more satisfied with the interview than participants in the invalidating condition. Moreover, they showed a significant decrease on all measures of negative affect as well as for pain. For example, there was a significant between group difference in frustration where frustration decreased in the validation group, while it increased in the invalidation condition. A validating communication style seems to be beneficial for enhancing patient satisfaction, as well as diminishing negative affect and pain intensity ratings. Our results suggest that validation might be a viable technique to use in clinical examinations of patients suffering pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center