Does perceived social support mediate the relationship between catastrophizing and pain response?

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University of Alabama Libraries

Objective: The objective of the current investigation was to attempt to contribute to the limited body of literature regarding the role and importance of social context, in particular social support, to the experience of pain. Specifically, the current study proposed that some of the previously observed effects of pain catastrophizing on pain experience operate through a social mechanism of action by reducing available social resources to help people cope with the stress of pain. Thus, it was hypothesized that perceived social support would at least partially mediate the relationship between pain catastrophizing and pain experience or response variables (perceptions of pain intensity and unpleasantness and tolerance time). Method: A sample of 285 college students enrolled in introductory psychology courses answered baseline questionnaires about dispositional variables before completing a fixed-time cold pressor task (60s) followed by an open-ended cold pressor task (to test pain tolerance). Questionnaires assessed perceived general social support (the Social Provisions Scale), dispositional and situational pain catastrophizing (Pain Catastrophizing Scale), and perceptions of pain intensity and unpleasantness (using visual analog scales). Results: The final sample consisted of 285 college students (Age: M = 19.62, SD = 1.73), was primarily White (77.9%) and female (58.2%), and the majority denied having either chronic or recurrent pain (n = 160, 56.1%). Regression and SEM analyses demonstrated that the study mediation hypothesis was not supported. Conclusion: Results of the current study suggest important revisions and considerations for future replications and similar studies.

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