CARE Scale-7: Development and Preliminary Validation of a Measure to Assess Factors Impacting Self-Care in Chronic Pain

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Abstract

Objectives:

Social and interpersonal factors may impact chronic pain self-care and self-management; however, no integrated measure exists to assess the interplay of these factors. We developed and tested a measure designed to assess salient interpersonal factors, including relationship guilt and worry, and difficulty prioritizing self-care in chronic pain.

Methods:

We tested self-report items broadly relevant to locus of care, limit-setting capacity, and worry/guilt about relationships in 3 discrete chronic pain samples (total N=1,452): (1) online sample of chronic pain clinic patients (N=729; 21 candidate CARE items, sociodemographics, and measures of psychological and physical functioning). Analytic results supported a final 7-item CARE scale that was next tested in (2) an anonymous online sample of 578 adults with chronic pain. (3) Finally, preliminary validation of the CARE scale was performed in a tertiary pain clinic sample (N=145).

Results:

Exploratory factor analysis revealed a 7-item, 2-factor solution (difficulty prioritizing self-care and guilt/worry) that accounted for a combined total of 58% of the variance. CARE scale-7 had modest convergent validity with pain intensity, pain-related interference, and emotional distress. Extreme difficulty with both factors was reported by about one-third of the total sample, suggesting that relationship factors significantly impact pain management and self-care.

Discussion:

Social factors are gaining attention for their influence on the trajectory of chronic pain. The CARE scale is a brief, integrated measure that may be used to reveal specific interpersonal and personal impediments to self-care, and identify important therapeutic targets to optimize self-management behaviors.

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