How do I cope with pain? Let me count the ways: awareness of pain coping behaviors and relationships with depression and anxiety

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Psychol Health Med


Patients with chronic pain are often undertreated with medications alone and need alternative ways of coping. Identifying pain coping skills patients use may be beneficial; however, no research has investigated whether patients are aware of their coping skills. The purpose of this study was to determine whether patients are aware of their pain coping skills, whether certain patient characteristics were related to using coping strategies, and whether coping strategies were related to psychiatric symptoms. Chart reviews were conducted on seventy-eight chronic pain patients who completed a semi-structured psychological interview. Patients endorsed using more coping strategies on the measure compared to the verbal self-report. Identifying with certain patient demographics was related to higher use of some coping strategies. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were also related to the use of some coping strategies. Anxiety was negatively related to ignoring the pain and using self-talk coping statements and positively related to catastrophizing. Depression was negatively related to the use of distraction, ignoring the pain, and using self-talk coping statements. Depression and pain severity were both positively related to catastrophizing and prayer. Results suggest that clinicians may need to help patients become aware of adaptive coping strategies they already use and that the use of certain coping strategies is related to lower levels of depression and anxiety.

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Adaptation, Psychological; Adult; Anxiety; Awareness; Chronic Pain; Depression; Female; Humans; Interview, Psychological; Male; Middle Aged

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