The relationship between spouse solicitousness and pain behavior: searching for more experimental evidence

Pain. 1992 Oct;51(1):75-79. doi: 10.1016/0304-3959(92)90011-Y.


In this study 42 chronic back pain patients participated twice in a treadmill test. During 1 of these 2 sessions, the partner was present. Walking time, pain intensity ratings, and heart rate were measured before and after the tests. From the results of previous studies it was expected that, in the presence of a relatively solicitous spouse, patients would report more pain, would have a shorter walking time, and would exert themselves less physically. Spouse solicitousness was measured in 2 ways: from the patient's perspective as well as from that of the spouse. Results based on the patient's interpretation of his/her partner's responses are not in accordance with previous findings. Results based on the spouse's view demonstrate, however, that patients with solicitous spouses do, in fact, report more pain and walk for a shorter duration in the presence of the spouse than patients with relatively non-solicitous spouses. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior
  • Conditioning, Operant
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology
  • Low Back Pain / psychology*
  • Male
  • Marriage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Walking