Psychological & physical impact of chronic pain beliefs


Alschuler, K. N., Kratz, A. L., & Ehde, D. M. (2016). Resilience and vulnerability in individuals with chronic pain and physical disability. Rehabilitation Psychology, 61, 7-18. doi:10.1037/rep0000055


Rehabilitation psychologists often work with individuals who experience chronic pain related to a physical disability. The authors of this study examine the cross-sectional relationship between attitudes and beliefs about pain, physical and psychological health, and perceived pain severity and interference in a sample of 188 individuals with spinal cord injury (n = 73), amputation (n = 33), or multiple sclerosis (n = 82) who were enrolled in a study on interventions for chronic pain. Higher chronic pain acceptance was associated with greater physical health and less pain interference while higher depressive symptoms were associated with poorer physical and mental health and greater pain interference. Stronger belief that pain is disabling was associated with greater pain interference, stronger belief in the ability to control one’s pain was associated with greater pain-related self-efficacy, and stronger belief in the ability of emotion to impact pain was related poorer mental health.

I PICKED THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE chronic pain in a major issue in many populations served by rehabilitation psychologists, and this article suggests that we may be able to assess and assist patients with chronic pain by examining their attitudes and beliefs about their pain. I also liked that this article drew from a multi-disability sample, thus providing greater evidence of the generalizability of these findings across specific patient populations.

This month's rehabilitation science spotlight was chosen by Emily M. Lund, Utah State University Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation; Member of the Division 22 Science Committee.