Pain-related anxiety and anxiety sensitivity across anxiety and depressive disorders Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Fear-anxiety-avoidance models posit pain-related anxiety and anxiety sensitivity as important contributing variables in the development and maintenance of chronic musculoskeletal pain [Asmundson, G. J. G, Vlaeyen, J. W. S., & Crombez, G. (Eds.). (2004). Understanding and treating fear of pain. New York: Oxford University Press]. Emerging evidence also suggests that pain-related anxiety may be a diathesis for many other emotional disorders [Asmundson, G. J. G., & Carleton, R. N. (2005). Fear of pain is elevated in adults with co-occurring trauma-related stress and social anxiety symptoms. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 34, 248-255; Asmundson, G. J. G., & Carleton, R. N. (2008). Fear of pain. In: M. M. Antony & M. B. Stein (Eds.), Handbook of anxiety and the anxiety disorders (pp. 551-561). New York: Oxford University Press] and appears to share several elements in common with other fears (e.g., anxiety sensitivity, illness/injury sensitivity, fear of negative evaluation) as described by Reiss [Reiss, S. (1991). Expectancy model of fear, anxiety, and panic. Clinical Psychology Review, 11, 141-153] and Taylor [Taylor, S. (1993). The structure of fundamental fears. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 24, 289-299]. The purpose of the present investigation was to assess self-reported levels of pain-related anxiety [Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale-Short Form; PASS-20; McCracken, L. M., & Dhingra, L. (2002). A short version of the Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale (PASS-20): preliminary development and validity. Pain Research and Management, 7, 45-50] across several anxiety and depressive disorders and to compare those levels to non-clinical and chronic pain samples. Participants consisted of a clinical sample (n=418; 63% women) with principal diagnoses of a depressive disorder (DD; n=22), panic disorder (PD; n=114), social anxiety disorder (SAD; n=136), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD; n=86), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD; n=46), or specific phobia (n=14). Secondary group comparisons were made with a community sample as well as with published data from a treatment-seeking chronic pain sample [McCracken, L. M., & Dhingra, L. (2002). A short version of the Pain Anxiety Symptoms Scale (PASS-20): preliminary development and validity. Pain Research and Management, 7, 45-50]. Results suggest that pain-related anxiety is generally comparable across anxiety and depressive disorders; however, pain-related anxiety was typically higher (p<.01) in individuals with anxiety and depressive disorders relative to a community sample, but comparable to or lower than a chronic pain sample. Results imply that pain-related anxiety may indeed be a construct independent of other fundamental fears, warranting subsequent hierarchical investigations and consideration for inclusion in treatments of anxiety disorders. Additional implications and directions for future research are discussed.

publication date

  • August 2009