Attachment styles, pain intensity and emotional variables in women with fibromyalgia

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Abstract

This study aims to explore the relations between attachment styles and pain intensity and certain emotional variables (anxiety, depression and alexithymia) in a sample of fibromyalgia patients, in comparison with healthy women. Data were collected from 146 women with fibromyalgia and 122 healthy women. The variables studied were attachment style, pain intensity, anxiety, depression and alexithymia dimensions. Patients with fibromyalgia showed lower percentages of secure attachment style (69.9% vs. 86%) whilst showing higher avoidant attachment (19.8% vs. 7.4%), as well as increased numbers of anxious–ambivalent attachment (10.3% vs. 6.6%) than healthy women (X2 = 9.915, p = .007). Also, fibromyalgia patients showed significantly higher scores in two of the insecure attachment factors (p < .000; p = .020) and lower scores on the secure attachment factor (p = .008) in comparison with healthy women. Higher scores of alexithymia were found in women showing anxious–ambivalent and avoidant attachment styles in comparison with those showing a secure attachment style, regardless of the group they belonged to. In fibromyalgia patients, higher anxiety (p = .005) was found among the women with anxious–ambivalent attachment styles (Mean = 15.15; SD = 1.15) in comparison with those with secure attachment style (Mean = 11.18; SD = .45). No relation was found between attachment style and pain intensity. Avoidant attachment seems to carry out a contradictory role and warrants further research. The results found seem to highlight the need for the Attachment–Diathesis Model of Chronic Pain to include attachment styles as a predictor of the emotional experience of pain in fibromyalgia patients.

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