Pain-specific beliefs, perceived symptom severity, and adjustment to chronic pain

M. P. Jensen, P. Karoly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

111 Scopus citations


Cognitive theories of appraisal argue for the importance of beliefs as determinants of adjustment to stress. The current investigation sought to examine the relation between beliefs about chronic pain and adjustment in a group of chronic pain patients. Patients' belief in themselves as disabled was found to be inversely related to activity level for patients reporting low and medium levels of pain severity. This same belief correlated with professional services utilization and was negatively related to psychological functioning. Believing in a medical cure for pain was also positively related to professional services utilization. Finally, an expressed belief in the appropriateness of solicitous responses from family members was negatively related to psychological functioning for patients reporting relatively low levels of pain. Although these findings support the broad-based hypothesis that the illness-relevant beliefs of chronic pain patients are associated with their multidimensional pain adjustment, they emphasize the importance of beliefs concerning whether or not one is disabled by pain. The findings also highlight the fact that the belief/functioning relation is not always direct and can be moderated by perceived pain severity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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