The Role of Psychosocial Processes in the Development and Maintenance of Chronic Pain

Robert R. Edwards, Robert H. Dworkin, Mark D. Sullivan, Dennis C. Turk, Ajay D. Wasan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

221 Scopus citations


The recently proposed Analgesic, Anesthetic, and Addiction Clinical Trial Translations, Innovations, Opportunities, and Networks (ACTTION)-American Pain Society (APS) Pain Taxonomy (AAPT) provides an evidence-based, multidimensional, chronic pain classification system. Psychosocial factors play a crucial role within several dimensions of the taxonomy. In this article, we discuss the evaluation of psychosocial factors that influence the diagnosis and trajectory of chronic pain disorders. We review studies in individuals with a variety of persistent pain conditions, and describe evidence that psychosocial variables play key roles in conferring risk for the development of pain, in shaping long-term pain-related adjustment, and in modulating pain treatment outcomes. We consider “general” psychosocial variables such as negative affect, childhood trauma, and social support, as well as “pain-specific” psychosocial variables that include pain-related catastrophizing, self-efficacy for managing pain, and pain-related coping. Collectively, the complexity and profound variability in chronic pain highlights the need to better understand the multidimensional array of interacting forces that determine the trajectory of chronic pain conditions. Perspective The AAPT is an evidence-based chronic pain classification system in which psychosocial concepts and processes are essential in understanding the development of chronic pain and its effects. In this article we review psychosocial processes that influence the onset, exacerbation, and maintenance of chronic pain disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)T70-T92
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • affect
  • Biopsychosocial
  • chronic pain
  • fear-avoidance
  • phenotype

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The Role of Psychosocial Processes in the Development and Maintenance of Chronic Pain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this