Exploring non-cancer pain conditions in a community sample : critiquing a current conceptual model of the acute to chronic pain transition and examining predictors of chronicity

Lang, Cathryne P. (2008) Exploring non-cancer pain conditions in a community sample : critiquing a current conceptual model of the acute to chronic pain transition and examining predictors of chronicity. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This program of research examines the experience of chronic pain in a community sample. While, it is clear that like patient samples, chronic pain in non-patient samples is also associated with psychological distress and physical disability, the experience of pain across the total spectrum of pain conditions (including acute and episodic pain conditions) and during the early course of chronic pain is less clear. Information about these aspects of the pain experience is important because effective early intervention for chronic pain relies on identification of people who are likely to progress to chronicity post-injury. A conceptual model of the transition from acute to chronic pain was proposed by Gatchel (1991a). In brief, Gatchel’s model describes three stages that individuals who have a serious pain experience move through, each with worsening psychological dysfunction and physical disability. The aims of this program of research were to describe the experience of pain in a community sample in order to obtain pain-specific data on the problem of pain in Queensland, and to explore the usefulness of Gatchel’s Model in a non-clinical sample. Additionally, five risk factors and six protective factors were proposed as possible extensions to Gatchel’s Model. To address these aims, a prospective longitudinal mixed-method research design was used. Quantitative data was collected in Phase 1 via a comprehensive postal questionnaire. Phase 2 consisted of a follow-up questionnaire 3 months post-baseline. Phase 3 consisted of semi-structured interviews with a subset of the original sample 12 months post follow-up, which used qualitative data to provide a further in-depth examination of the experience and process of chronic pain from respondents’ point of view. The results indicate chronic pain is associated with high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms. However, the levels of disability reported by this Queensland sample were generally lower than those reported by clinical samples and consistent with disability data reported in a New South Wales population-based study. With regard to the second aim of this program of research, while some elements of the pain experience of this sample were consistent with that described by Gatchel’s Model, overall the model was not a good fit with the experience of this non-clinical sample. The findings indicate that passive coping strategies (minimising activity), catastrophising, self efficacy, optimism, social support, active strategies (use of distraction) and the belief that emotions affect pain may be important to consider in understanding the processes that underlie the transition to and continuation of chronic pain.

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ID Code: 26323
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Sullivan, Karen, Hansen, Julie, & Yates, Patricia
Keywords: chronic pain, acute to chronic transition, community sample, mixed-methods, longitudinal
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Jul 2009 02:29
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:53

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