Pain and the marital relationship: Psychiatric distress

Stephen B. Shanfield, Elliott M. Heiman, Nathan Cope, John R. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Psychologic assessment and treatment of the family of the chronic pain patient has been thought to be of benefit in the outcome of pain therapy. The present study was designed to determine the presence of psychologic symptoms in the spouses of pain patients and the relationship of distress levels between the marital pair. Forty-four couples were studied. Demographic data was collected and each indicidual completed the SCL-90, a widely used and validated measure of psychologic symptom severity. There was a significant correlation (P = < 0.001) on psychiatric distress scores between pain patients and their spouses particularly when pain patient distress scores were high. Distress levels tended to decrease with age and were highest among the unemployed and lowest in the retired. In addition spouses were significantly higher than nonpatient norms on most sympton suscales. These data underline the importance of conjoint assesement of the chronic pain patient and the spouse, and have implications for treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-351
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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