Mindfulness is Associated With Increased Hedonic Capacity Among Chronic Pain Patients Receiving Extended Opioid Pharmacotherapy

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Chronic pain and long-term opioid use may lead to a persistent deficit in hedonic capacity, characterized by increased sensitivity to aversive states and insensitivity to natural rewards. Dispositional mindfulness has been linked with improved emotion regulation and pain coping. The aim of the current study was to examine associations between dispositional mindfulness, hedonic capacity, and pain-related interference in an opioid-using chronic pain sample.


Data were obtained from a sample of 115 chronic pain patients on long-term opioid therapy (68% females, M age=48.3, SD=13.6) who completed the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Snaith-Hamilton Anhedonia and Pleasure Scale (SHAPS), the Brief Pain Inventory, and a psychiatric assessment of major depression. Bivariate correlations, hierarchical multiple regression, and path analysis were used to determine whether dispositional mindfulness scores (FFMQ) predicted variance in hedonic capacity (SHAPS), and whether hedonic capacity mediated the association between mindfulness and pain interference.


We observed a significant positive correlation between dispositional mindfulness and hedonic capacity scores (r=0.33, P<0.001). Hierarchical regression indicated that after controlling for pain interference and major depressive disorder diagnosis, dispositional mindfulness explained a significant portion of variance in hedonic capacity (β=0.30, P<0.01). The association between dispositional mindfulness and pain interference was mediated by hedonic capacity (b=−0.011, SE=0.005; 95% CI, −0.004 to −0.024, full model R2=0.39).


Findings indicate that dispositional mindfulness was associated with hedonic capacity among this chronic pain sample. In light of this association, it is plausible that interventions that increase mindfulness may reduce pain-related impairment among opioid-using patients by enhancing hedonic capacity.

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