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Pain. 1989 Dec;39(3):289-95.

Sex differences in the relationship of pain patient dysfunction to spouse adjustment.

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Multidisciplinary Pain Center, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle 98195.


Recent studies have suggested that spouses of chronic pain patients are at risk for emotional and marital maladjustment. This study explored the role of patient and spouse gender in mediating the effects of chronic pain on the spouse's adjustment. Eight-three chronic low back pain patients and their spouses completed measures of physical and psychosocial disability, pain behaviors, marital satisfaction, and depression. The following findings characterized male but not female patient couples: (a) spouses reported significantly lower marital satisfaction than did patients; (b) lesser spouse marital satisfaction was associated with greater patient depression; and (c) greater spouse depression was associated with greater depression and lower marital satisfaction in patients. In female but not male patient couples, spouses reported significantly less depression than did patients. Significant relationships were more frequently observed between spouse-rated patient dysfunction and spouse's depression and marital adjustment in male patient couples. The results suggest a stronger relationship for female than for male spouses between the spouse's perception of patient dysfunction and the spouse's emotional and marital adjustment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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