Biased Partner Perceptions of Women's Pain Self-Efficacy in Postpartum Pain During Intercourse: A Dyadic Longitudinal Examination
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Postpartum pain during intercourse is a prevalent and distressing problem that has substantial consequences for affected couples. Partner perceptions-such as how partners perceive women's pain self-efficacy-contribute to an individual's pain experience. This study examined whether partners under- or over-estimate women's intercourse pain self-efficacy at 3-months postpartum and the implications of this bias for women's pain and couples' sexual functioning at 3- and 6-months postpartum. Women who reported pain during intercourse and their partners (N = 89 couples) completed online measures assessing pain self-efficacy (own or partner perceptions), pain intensity, and sexual functioning at 3- and 6-months postpartum. Analyses were based on the Truth and Bias Model of Judgement and Response Surface Analysis. Partners were accurate in their estimates of women's pain self-efficacy (ie, their estimates were positively correlated with women's), but they also underestimated it by perceiving women to be less efficacious than women themselves reported. When couples showed greater agreement for lower levels of pain self-efficacy at 3 months, women reported greater pain intensity and both partners reported poorer sexual functioning at 3- and 6-months postpartum. Findings may inform interventions that promote pain self-efficacy to improve partner support and couples' sexual functioning. PERSPECTIVE: When women report-and their partners perceive-low levels of women's self-efficacy for managing painful intercourse, women report greater postpartum pain during intercourse and couples indicate poorer sexual functioning. These findings suggest that interventions aimed at promoting couples' agreement at high pain self-efficacy may improve their adjustment to postpartum pain.
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