Original Report| Volume 10, ISSUE 5, P486-492, May 2009

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Spouse Beliefs About Partner Chronic Pain


      Although research has shown that patients' beliefs about their pain are related to pain adjustment and treatment outcomes, little is known about the beliefs of their significant others. The purpose of this study was to develop a measure of pain beliefs in significant others and to examine the correlates of these beliefs. Participants were 104 married couples in which 1 partner reported chronic pain. Spouses completed an amended version of the Survey of Pain Beliefs (SOPA). The scale development procedure described in Jensen et al was used to select appropriate items for the significant other version of the SOPA. This procedure yielded 7 subscales that closely resembled the original SOPA. Spousal pain beliefs about disability, emotion, control, and medication were significantly correlated with partners' pain severity and other indicators of pain adjustment. Emotion, disability, and other beliefs were related to spouse responses to pain, and spouses' depressive symptoms and marital dissatisfaction. Spouses' personal experiences with pain were not related to their beliefs about their partners' pain. Additional research on the pain-related beliefs of significant others may extend cognitive-behavioral theory concerning the social context of pain and provide an additional avenue through which clinicians can address cognition in patients and families.


      This study describes a new measure that can be used to assess significant others' beliefs about their partners' pain problems. Little is known about the beliefs of family members so this measure is expected to provide a way for clinicians and researchers to assess and track changes in those beliefs.

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