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Anxiety Increases Pain Disability

Anxiety Increases Pain DisabilityBritish researchers have discovered individuals with high levels of anxiety due to chronic pain exhibit more emotional distress and disability.

However, the use of pain coping strategies can mediate this effect.

The purpose of the study was to examine the role of anxiety on everyday functioning of patients seeking treatment for chronic pain. It was assumed anxiety would be associated with higher levels of distress and impaired functioning.

The researchers also evaluated the role of three coping mechanisms to determine their impact as buffers nullifying the effects of anxiety. They are acceptance of pain, mindfulness and values-based action.

The study subjects were 125 consecutive adult patients who answered questionnaires designed to assess their anxiety about pain, measure their acceptance of it, identify the values they associated with interacting with family and friends and with working and learning, and to gauge the level of their mindfulness about pain ranging from almost always to almost never.

Results of the study showed that anxiety is associated with greater pain, emotional distress and disability in chronic pain patients. Anxiety was determined to be the strongest predictor of depression, disability and visits to physician offices.

When the three coping strategies were used, the authors concluded that acceptance of pain, mindfulness and values-based actions reduce but do not eliminate the extent to which anxiety influences patient functioning.

The authors concluded that in conjunction with cognitive-behavioral therapies, the coping mechanisms can undermine the role of anxiety in worsening suffering and disability in chronic pain patients.

The findings are published in The Journal of Pain, the peer-review publication of the American Pain Society.

Source: American Pain Society

Anxiety Increases Pain Disability

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Anxiety Increases Pain Disability. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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