Electronic momentary assessment in chronic pain II: pain and psychological pain responses as predictors of pain disability

M.J. Sorbi*, M.L. Peters, D.A. Kruise, C.J. Maas, J.J. Kerssens, P.F. Verhaak, J.M. Bensing

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objectives and Methods: More than 7 100 electronic diaries from 80 patients with chronic pain (mean: 89.3, range 30-115) entered multilevel analyses to establish the statistical prediction of disability by pain intensity and by psychological functioning (fear avoidance, cognitive, and spousal pain responses). We also tested the differences between prechronic, recently chronic, and persistently chronic pain in the prediction of disability (impaired physical and mental capacity, pain interference with activities, immobility due to pain). Results: Pain intensity explained 8% to 19% of the disability variance. Beyond this psychological functioning explained 7% to 16%: particularly fear-avoidance and cognitive pain responses predicted chronic pain disorder disability; spousal responses predicted immobility better than other aspects of disability. Immobility due to actual pain occurred infrequently. When it did, however, it was better predicted by avoidance behavior in the patient and by spousal discouragement of movement than by actual pain intensity. The prediction of immobility due to pain by, respectively, avoidance behavior and catastrophizing was better in chronic pain (> 6 months) and that of physical impairment by catastrophizing better in persistently chronic pain (> 12 months) than in pain of shorter duration. Discussion: The psychological prediction of chronic pain disorder disability was determined beyond that accounted for by pain intensity. Nonetheless, psychological functioning explained substantial variance in chronic pain disorder disability. The psychological prediction of immobility and physical impairment was stronger with longer pain duration. Patient characteristics and momentary states of disability-and in particular of immobility-should be carefully distinguished and accounted for in chronic pain disorder.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-81
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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