Effects of pain intensity on goal schemas and goal pursuit: A daily diary study

Paul Karoly, Morris A. Okun, Craig Enders, Howard Tennen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Objective: Although the adverse effects of chronic pain on work productivity and daily life pursuits are clear, the within-person dynamics of pain, goal cognition, and engagement in work-related and lifestyle goals remain uncharted. This study investigated the impact of pain intensity (assessed on 3 occasions each day) and goal-related schematic thinking (ratings of importance, planning, and goal pursuit opportunities, assessed only in the morning) on afternoon and evening work and lifestyle goal pursuit. Methods: A community sample of working adults with chronic pain (N = 131) were screened and interviewed about their work and lifestyle goals and completed a 21-day telephonic diary. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to estimate within-person and between-person effects. Results: At the within-person level, morning pain intensity was inversely related to schematic cognition concerning work and lifestyle goals, whereas, at the between-person level, morning pain intensity varied positively with schematic thinking about work goals as well with afternoon lifestyle goal pursuit. At both the betweenand within- analytic levels, morning goal schemas were positively associated with the pursuit of each type of goal in the afternoon and again in the evening. Moreover, positive carry-over effects of morning goal schemas on next day afternoon goal pursuit were observed. Conclusions: Whereas morning pain intensity exhibited inconsistent effects across analytic levels, morning goal-related schematic thinking consistently predicted goal pursuit across analytic levels, type of goal, and time of day. These findings have implications for treatment and prevention of pain's potentially deleterious effects on workplace and lifestyle goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)968-976
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Chronic pain
  • Goal schemas
  • Lifestyle goals
  • Multilevel modeling
  • Work goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of pain intensity on goal schemas and goal pursuit: A daily diary study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this