Author(s): McWilliams LA, Asmundson GJ, McWilliams LA, Asmundson GJ
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Abstract Despite the prominence of fear-avoidance models of chronic pain, there is a paucity of research regarding the origins of pain-related fear. Based on the premise that insecure attachment could be a developmentally based origin of elevated fear of pain, associations between adult attachment dimensions and constructs included in fear-avoidance models of chronic pain were investigated. Consistent with Bartholomew and Horowitz's [Bartholomew K, Horowitz LM. Attachment styles among young adults: a test of a four-category model. J Pers Soc Psychol 1991;61:226-44.] model, attachment was conceptualized as being comprised of a model of self dimension (i.e., degree of anxiety regarding rejection based on beliefs of personal unworthiness) and a model of others dimension (i.e., degree of interpersonal mistrust and discomfort with interpersonal closeness). A large university student sample free of chronic pain (N=278) completed a measure of adult romantic attachment (i.e., Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire; [Brennan KA, Clark CL, Shaver PR. Self-report measurement of adult attachment: an integrative overview. In: Simpson JA, Rholes WS, editors. Attachment theory and close relationships. New York: The Guilford Press, 1998. p. 46-76.]), the Fear of Pain Questionnaire-III [McNeil DW, Rainwater AJ. Development of the fear of pain questionnaire - III. J Behav Med 1998;21:389-410.], the Pain Vigilance and Awareness Questionnaire [McCracken LM. Attention to pain in persons with chronic pain: a behavioural approach. Behav Ther 1997;28:271-84.], and the Pain Catastrophizing Scale [Sullivan MJ, Bishop SR, Pivik J. The pain catastrophizing scale: development and validation. Psychol Assess 1995;7:24-532.]. It was hypothesized that insecure attachment would be positively associated with reports of pain-related fear, hypervigilance, and catastrophizing and that the model of self dimension would be the attachment variable most strongly associated with these variables. Correlation and multiple regression analyses supported these hypotheses. The model of self dimension had significant positive associations with each of the fear-avoidance constructs. The model of others dimension had a significant positive association with pain catastrophizing, but was not significantly associated with fear of pain and pain hypervigilance. Future research directions and potential clinical implications are discussed.
This article was published in Pain
and referenced in Advanced Techniques in Biology & Medicine