A Multivariate Validity Analysis of the Pain-related Cognitive Processes Questionnaire

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The Pain-related Cognitive Processes Questionnaire (PCPQ) provides a multifaceted assessment of different styles of pain-related attentional processing. The present study examined the construct validity of the 4 PCPQ composite scales.


Exploratory structural equation modeling was applied to data from 2 college student samples (N=544) to derive reference-variable factors that provided the context for drawing inferences regarding the construct validity of the PCPQ scales.


PCPQ scales were regressed on 8 orthogonal reference-variable factors that captured the common variance in 17 pain-related measures. A substantial proportion of the variance in the PCPQ Pain Diversion scale was predicted by factors reflecting: (1) use of distraction to reduce negative thoughts; (2) belief in the ability to control pain; and (3) pain catastrophizing. The PCPQ Pain Distancing scale was associated with factors reflecting: (1) belief in control over pain; (2) use of distraction; (3) efforts to punish negative thoughts; and (4) pain disability. PCPQ Pain Focus was predicted mostly by a factor reflecting pain catastrophizing, although emotional distress contributed an additional amount of variance. The PCPQ Pain Openness scale had a small negative relationship with the factor reflecting pain catastrophizing.


The associations found in the exploratory structural equation modeling approach, as well as the PCPQ scale content and intercorrelations, support the validity of the PCPQ Pain Diversion, Pain Distancing, and Pain Focus scales. Given the lack of strong associations with the validity criteria assessed in this study, questions remain regarding the construct validity of the Pain Openness scale.

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