Living with a patient with chronic pain is now known to have a negative impact on physical and mental health of the caregivers. Research indicates that adaptive coping strategies can reduce the burden that pain has on patients. Yet, it is unknown whether coping strategies can also affect the physical and mental health of the spouses of patients with chronic pain. In the present research, we investigated the role of coping strategies used by spouses of patients with pain in the relationship between the pain intensity of the patients and the physical and mental health of their spouses.Methods:
The study comprised 195 heterosexual couples. About 41% of spouses were females.Results:
Our results showed that being older, having a lower educational level, having a negative orientation toward problems, and using impulsive strategies to cope when in difficult situations contributed to poorer physical health of spouses. A poorer mental health status of spouses was associated with being negatively oriented toward problems, being a female, and being a caregiver of mentally distressed patient. In addition, it was found that the impulsive-careless coping strategy used by the spouses moderated the relationship between patients’ pain severity and physical health of their spouses. At low levels of patients’ pain intensity as rated by spouses, spouses reported similar levels of physical health irrespective of coping ratings. Conversely, at high levels of patients’ pain intensity as rated by spouses, poorer physical health was reported by spouses scoring high on impulsive-careless coping.Discussion:
Implications for clinical practice are discussed. Our findings suggest that screening for coping strategies used by spouses of patients with pain might complement clinical interventions aimed at promoting the physical and mental health of patients and their partners.