Pain catastrophizing has been shown to predict greater pain and less physical function in daily life for chronic pain sufferers, but its effects on close social partners have received much less attention. The overall purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which pain catastrophizing is an interpersonal coping strategy that is maladaptive for patients and their spouses. A total of 144 older knee osteoarthritis patients and their spouses completed baseline interviews and a 22-day diary assessment. Multilevel lagged models indicated that, on days when patients reported greater catastrophizing in the morning, their spouses experienced more negative affect throughout the day. In addition, a higher level of punishing responses from the spouse predicted greater pain catastrophizing the next morning, independent of patient pain and negative affect. Multilevel mediation models showed that patients' morning pain catastrophizing indirectly impacted spouses' negative affect and punishing responses through patients' own greater negative affect throughout the day. There was no evidence that spouses' empathic or solicitous responses either followed or preceded patients' catastrophizing. These findings suggest that cognitive-behavioral interventions that reduce pain catastrophizing should be modified for partnered patients to address dyadic interactions and the spouse's role in pain catastrophizing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine