Interpersonal Responses and Pain Management Within the US Military

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9 Scopus citations


Purpose Chronic pain poses a significant problem for the US military. The benefits of self-management treatments for chronic pain are well-documented, but interpersonal responses also influence physical and psychological health and may not be addressed through self-management treatments alone. The current study examines whether perceived interpersonal responses to pain, as measured by the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI), change as a result of participation in an intensive pain management program. It was hypothesized that interpersonal responses to pain would be significantly correlated to psychosocial and physical pain outcomes and that interpersonal responses to pain would change significantly for completers of a functional restoration (FR) program compared to those who were randomized to treatment-as-usual in the military medical system. Methods Forty-four participants were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. One treatment group received FR (n = 26) and the other group received treatment-as-usual (n = 18). Significant other responses to chronic pain were measured by the MPI (Pain 23(4):345–356, 1985). Participants also completed measures of impacted quality of life, reported disability, psychological distress, fear avoidance, pain interference, and physical activity. Results Perceived higher punishing responses from a significant other were significantly related to worse physical health-related quality of life (p = .037), work-related fear avoidance (p = .008), pain interference (p = .026), affective distress (p = .039), and pain while lifting (p = .017). Perceived higher solicitous responses from significant others were significantly associated with lower mental health-related quality of life (p = .011), household activity (p = 017), general activity (p = .042), self-reported disability (p = .030), lifting capacity (p = .005), and aerobic capacity (p = .009). Conclusions While findings are preliminary and of limited scope, it appears that the perception of significant others’ responses may be impacted by psychosocial and physical pain outcomes and may change after treatment. More work in this area is needed to uncover the benefits one might achieve when a significant other is included within the FR treatment framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-228
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Military personnel
  • Pain management
  • Rehabilitation
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Occupational Therapy
  • Rehabilitation


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