Pain coping strategies predict perceived control over pain

Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite, Lynette A. Menefee, Leslie J. Heinberg, Michael R. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Perceptions of control over pain and specific pain coping strategies are associated with a number of positive outcomes in patients with chronic pain conditions. Transactional models of stress have emphasized coping as a process that is both determined by, and influences appraisals of control. While perceptions of control and coping efforts are associated with better adjustment, little is known about the specific coping strategies that contribute to perceptions that pain is controllable. One hundred and ninety-five (65% female) individuals with chronic pain conditions admitted to an inpatient unit completed the Multidimensional Pain Inventory, the Survey of Pain Attitudes and the Coping Strategies Questionnaire. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were used to predict perceived pain control from measures of pain severity and coping. After controlling for pain severity and education, coping self-statements and reinterpreting pain sensations predicted greater perceptions of control over pain, whereas ignoring pain sensations predicted lower perceptions of control over pain. The coping strategies did not interact with pain severity in predicting perceptions of control. Coping flexibility, or the number of pain coping strategies reported at a high frequency, also predicted perceptions of control over pain and did not interact with pain severity. The present findings suggest that, regardless of pain severity, the use of specific cognitive pain coping strategies may increase perceptions of control over pain. Since the existing coping literature largely identifies maladaptive pain coping strategies, it is especially critical to establish which pain coping strategies are adaptive. Specific cognitive strategies, particularly coping self statements, are important components for cognitive-behavioral interventions for chronic pain management. Future research will need to determine whether other adaptive cognitive strategies such as reinterpreting pain sensations can be increased with cognitive interventions, since this strategy is infrequently used. Copyright (C) 1998 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-39
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1998


  • Coping strategies
  • Multiple regression analyses
  • Pain
  • Perceptions of control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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