Sex-specific effects of pain-related anxiety on adjustment to chronic pain

Robert Edwards, Erik M. Augustson, Roger Fillingim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Objective: Considerable research indicates that both high levels of anxiety and female sex are associated with increased sensitivity to experimental pain and greater experience of clinical pain. In general, however, previous research has not investigated the joint effects of sex and anxiety on pain responses. A single previous laboratory-based study indicated that anxiety was inversely related to pain thresholds among men but not among women. The present study examined the relation between pain-related anxiety and adjustment to chronic pain in a sex-dependent manner. Design and Setting: A total of 215 (114 women, 101 men) chronic pain patients referred to a multidisciplinary treatment center completed questionnaires assessing anxiety and adjustment to chronic pain. Results: Results generally supported the previous laboratory-based finding indicating that an inverse relation between anxiety and adjustment to chronic pain was present only among male patients. Although male patients with high pain-related anxiety reported greater pain severity, greater interference of pain, and lower levels of daily activity than male patients with low anxiety, this effect was not present among female patients. Moreover, the effects of pain-related anxiety on adjustment to chronic pain were not attributable to either hypervigilance or use of passive coping strategies. Potential explanations and implications for the present findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-53
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Adjustment to pain
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Gender
  • Sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology


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