Category: Pain Rehabilitation; Measurement
Objective : Pain catastrophizing, a maladaptive cognitive approach to the experience of chronic pain characterized by rumination, magnification, and helplessness, has been found to be highly predictive of poor physical and emotional functioning. This study aimed to characterize pain catastrophizing among persons with multiple sclerosis (PwMS) and explore its relationships with demographic, disease-related, and clinical variables.
Design : Cross-sectional survey that evaluated aspects of pain and functioning, as well as demographics and MS-related variables.
Setting : National online survey.
Participants (or Animals, Specimens, Cadavers) : PwMS (n = 161) with at least mild pain who were recruited through the North American Research Committee on MS (NARCOMS).
Interventions : Not applicable.
Main Outcome Measure(s) : Pain catastrophizing was measured using the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), which had excellent internal consistency in this sample (α = 0.92). A clinically relevant level of catastrophizing was defined as a score of 30 and above.
Results : Over 26% (n = 42) of respondents reported a clinically relevant level of pain catastrophizing. These individuals, relative to those not meeting this threshold, had higher levels of pain intensity, pain-related illness intrusiveness, and depressive and anxiety symptom severity, as well as lower levels of resilience. There were no significant differences in terms of age, gender, level of disability, MS or pain duration, or number of pain locations.
Conclusions : Demographics and clinical characteristics of MS were unrelated to reports of pain catastrophizing. Consistent with previous research, pain catastrophizing has a strong relationship with pain severity and psychological well-being. In contrast to findings from the general population of persons with chronic pain, pain catastrophizing was not significantly associated with self-reported disability among PwMS, These findings draw attention to a potentially important role of pain catastrophizing in PwMS’ experience of chronic pain.
Elizabeth Gromisch– Research Neuropsychologist, Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital, Trinity Health Of New England, Hartford, Connecticut
Robert Kerns– Research Psychologist, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut
John Beauvais– Neuropsychologist, VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, Connecticut