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Pain Pract. 2014 Apr;14(4):309-14. doi: 10.1111/papr.12071. Epub 2013 May 22.

Self-critical perfectionism predicts outcome in multidisciplinary treatment for chronic pain.

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Department of Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.



Self-critical perfectionistic personality features have been shown to influence the onset and perpetuation of pain symptoms. However, no study to date has investigated whether these personality features are associated with treatment response in chronic pain.


Using a naturalistic pre-post design, the present study examined the effect of self-critical perfectionism on treatment outcome in terms of self-reported pain. The study was conducted in a sample of 53 chronic non-cancer pain patients who followed Multidisciplinary Pain Education Program (MPEP), a brief, 2-week cognitive-behaviorally based psycho-educational intervention for chronic pain that was recently found to be effective in reducing pain severity. Pre- and post-treatment pain intensity levels were assessed with the visual analog scale of the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form.


Pretreatment self-critical perfectionism was significantly associated with negative treatment outcome, even after taking into account pretreatment levels of depression.


Results suggest that self-critical perfectionistic personality features may negatively interfere with treatment response in patients with chronic pain. Thus, findings indicate that chronic pain patients with high levels of self-critical perfectionism may benefit less from brief interventions such as MPEP, and therefore may need more intensive and tailored treatment.


chronic pain; outcome; personality; predictors; treatment

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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