Psychological factors in chronic pain: evolution and revolution

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2002 Jun;70(3):678-90. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.70.3.678.


Research has demonstrated the importance of psychological factors in coping, quality of life, and disability in chronic pain. Furthermore, the contributions of psychology in the effectiveness of treatment of chronic pain patients have received empirical support. The authors describe a biopsychosocial model of chronic pain and provide an update on research implicating the importance of people's appraisals of their symptoms, their ability to self-manage pain and related problems, and their fears about pain and injury that motivate efforts to avoid exacerbation of symptoms and further injury or reinjury. They provide a selected review to illustrate treatment outcome research, methodological issues, practical, and clinical issues to identify promising directions. Although there remain obstacles, there are also opportunities for psychologists to contribute to improved understanding of pain and treatment of people who suffer from chronic pain. The authors conclude by noting that pain has received a tremendous amount of attention culminating in the passage of a law by the U.S. Congress designating the period 2001-2011 as the "The Decade of Pain Control and Research."

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Pain Management
  • Self Efficacy