Pain catastrophizing a critical review

Phillip J. Quartana, Claudia M. Campbell, Robert R. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

601 Scopus citations


Pain catastrophizing is conceptualized as a negative cognitive-affective response to anticipated or actual pain and has been associated with a number of important pain-related outcomes. In the present review, we first focus our efforts on the conceptualization of pain catastrophizing, highlighting its conceptual history and potential problem areas. We then focus our discussion on a number of theoretical mechanisms of action: appraisal theory, attention bias/information processing, communal coping, CNS pain processing mechanisms, psychophysiological pathways and neural pathways. We then offer evidence to suggest that pain catastrophizing represents an important process factor in pain treatment. We conclude by offering what we believe represents an integrated heuristic model for use by researchers over the next 5 years; a model we believe will advance the field most expediently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-758
Number of pages14
JournalExpert review of neurotherapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009


  • Attention bias
  • Chronic pain
  • Communal coping
  • FMRI
  • Helplessness
  • Pain catastrophizing
  • Pain sensitivityPrimary/secondary appraisal
  • Pain-related surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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