Low mindfulness predicts pain catastrophizing in a fear-avoidance model of chronic pain


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Abstract

The relationship between persistent pain and self-directed, non-reactive awareness of present-moment experience (i.e., mindfulness) was explored in one of the dominant psychological theories of chronic pain – the fear-avoidance model[53]. A heterogeneous sample of 104 chronic pain outpatients at a multidisciplinary pain clinic in Australia completed psychometrically sound self-report measures of major variables in this model: Pain intensity, negative affect, pain catastrophizing, pain-related fear, pain hypervigilance, and functional disability. Two measures of mindfulness were also used, the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale [4] and the Five-Factor Mindfulness Questionnaire [1]. Results showed that mindfulness significantly negatively predicts each of these variables, accounting for 17–41% of their variance. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis showed that mindfulness uniquely predicts pain catastrophizing when other variables are controlled, and moderates the relationship between pain intensity and pain catastrophizing. This is the first clear evidence substantiating the strong link between mindfulness and pain catastrophizing, and suggests mindfulness might be added to the fear-avoidance model. Implications for the clinical use of mindfulness in screening and intervention are discussed.

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