Moderators of the negative effects of catastrophizing in arthritis

Robert R. Edwards, Jon Giles, Clifton O. Bingham, Claudia Campbell, Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite, Joan Bathon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objectives: Pain is among the most frequently reported, bothersome, and disabling symptoms described by patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and the experience of pain is partially shaped by catastrophizing, a set of cognitive and emotional pain-related processes. However, other variables may moderate catastrophizing's influence on the experience of pain. In this study, we investigated a variety of factors that might buffer or magnify catastrophizing's deleterious consequences among patients with RA. Methods: A total of 185 RA patients were surveyed to determine levels of catastrophizing, pain, general psychological distress, and physical functioning. Results: Catastrophizing was associated with increased pain severity and psychological distress, and with poorer physical functioning. Some of these relationships were significantly moderated by education and social functioning; among RA patients with above-average social functioning and a college education, minimal relationships of catastrophizing with pain and distress symptoms were observed, while these associations were highly significant (Ps < 0.001) among patients with lower levels of education or social functioning. Conclusions: Collectively, educational achievement and positive social interactions may protect against some of the deleterious effects of catastrophizing. The design of future interventions to reduce catastrophizing or ameliorate its impact on pain outcomes may benefit from further study of these subgroups of patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-599
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Catastrophizing
  • Coping
  • Education
  • Pain
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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