People who experience chronic pain often require emotional and physical support. Many pain clients need assistance completing activities of daily living and require help tending to ordinary tasks. Some individuals with chronic pain are unable to stay employed due to their impairments. However, many people who live with chronic pain maintain a relatively normal quality of life. They find ways to adaptively cope with their pain and can still function in their professional and personal lives with little physical or emotional support.
The Pain Response Preference Questionnaire (PRPQ) is a tool that is used to determine how social response to pain affects the pain and subsequent disability of a pain client. There are many different factors considered in the PRPQ. But in a recent study conducted by Lachlan A. McWilliams of the Department of Psychology at Acadia University in Canada, the primary goal was to assess how solicitous support affected the disability and pain of clients analyzed. McWilliams evaluated 300 clients with chronic pain using self-reports and investigated their levels of pain severity, coping methods, and disability.
The study revealed that the individuals with the highest levels of solicitous support reported the most severe pain symptoms. These same participants reported the highest levels of disability from their pain. In contrast, the participants who reported high levels of suppression and activity had the lowest levels of disability. This suggests that the individuals who seek support for their pain may even exacerbate their symptoms in order to elicit the support. The support sought by the solicitous group was in the form of physical and emotional assistance and caused the participants to cope in negative ways resulting in further disability. The individuals that suppressed their discomfort and were encouraged to continue their normal activities demonstrated the highest levels of emotional and physical functioning. In sum, McWilliams believes that the PRPQ showed that individuals high in solicitous support had negative outcomes with respect to chronic pain. McWilliams added, “Notwithstanding the need for such research, the pattern of associations between the PRPQ scales and measures of agency, communion, and coping support the validity of the current PRPQ scales.”
McWilliams, L. A., Bailey, K., Dick, B. D., Verrier, M. J., Kowal, J. (2012). A psychometric evaluation of the pain response preference questionnaire in a chronic pain patient sample. Health Psychology 31.3, 343-351.
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