Cognitions, Metacognitions, and Chronic Pain

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Purpose: Although the content of thoughts has received a considerable amount of attention in pain research, the importance of thought processes (metacognitions) has received less attention. Method: One hundred twenty-nine individuals with muscular dystrophy and chronic pain completed measures assessing metacognitions and frequency of both catastrophizing and pain control beliefs. Results: Greater use of reappraisal and distraction metacognitions were associated with more perceived control over pain, whereas greater use of worry and punishment metacognitions were associated with more catastrophizing. Conclusions/Implications: The current findings indicate that metacognitions are associated with both pain control beliefs and catastrophizing and therefore may play an important role in the development or maintenance of pain-related cognitive content thought to influence patient functioning. Research is needed to determine whether treatments that encourage changes in both metacognitions and cognitive content are more effective than treatments that focus on cognitive content alone.

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