Abstract| Volume 14, ISSUE 4, SUPPLEMENT , S20, April 2013

Characterizing “grit” or perseverance for long-term goals in patients with chronic low back pain

      “Grit” is a personality characteristic defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” The 12-item Grit Scale assesses “consistency of interests” (e.g. “I become interested in new pursuits every few months.”) and “perseverance of effort” (e.g. “Setbacks don’t discourage me.”). Researchers have reported grit as a predictor of success and achievement. We are collecting data to explore the relevance of grit in the field of pain. Our study includes healthy individuals, individuals who have recovered from an acute episode of low back pain, and individuals with chronic low back pain (low back pain for more than 3 months, with pain > 4/10 on average for past month). Each participant completes an extensive battery of medical assessments, pain-based and trait-based questionnaires (including the Grit Scale), and several quantitative sensory measures (including a cold water pressor task, heat pain thresholding, heat temporal summation, and conditioned pain modulation). The Grit Scale summary score ranges from 1 to 5. In twenty-two volunteer participants with chronic low back pain, the average grit-score was 3.84 (SD = 0.44). This score is higher than previously reported mean scores for adults older than age 25 (3.58), West Point cadets (3.76), and National Spelling Bee finalists (3.50). While it is interesting that volunteers with chronic low back pain score higher on the Grit Scale, additional data will be needed to understand other explanatory factors including age. We plan to further explore grit-scores in relation to other measures (such as acute heat and cold pain tolerance), and in relation to other back pain characterization factors (such as the use of opioid medication). (Duckworth et al, J Pers Soc Psychol, 2007.) Supported by a NIH NIDA K23 Grant.