Factors associated with marital satisfaction and mood among spouses of persons with chronic back pain

J Pain. 2005 Aug;6(8):518-25. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2005.03.004.


Few studies have examined the impact of chronic pain on the spouse. In this study the impact of pain and disability as rated by both the patient and the spouse on spouse marital satisfaction and affective distress was examined in 110 couples. Zero-order correlations indicated that absolute ratings of perceived disability by the spouse, rather than discrepancies between spouse and patient ratings, were most highly associated with spouse marital dissatisfaction and affective distress. Predictors of spouse marital satisfaction and distress were examined by using simultaneous multiple regression. Spouse ratings of greater physical disability were significantly related to greater spouse affective distress. Spouse ratings of higher psychosocial disability, lower spouse marital satisfaction, and being a patient of male gender were marginally related to higher spouse affective distress. Spouse marital dissatisfaction was significantly associated with patient ratings of greater psychosocial disability and lower pain. Spouse-rated psychosocial disability and affective distress were also marginally related to spouse marital satisfaction. These findings highlight the importance of patient disability, particularly limitations in function as perceived by the spouse, on spouse adjustment.

Perspective: The impact of chronic pain on the spouse of the person with pain has received little empirical attention. The present study examines the relationship between patient and pain-related factors and psychosocial adjustment in the spouse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Back Pain / psychology*
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Caregivers / statistics & numerical data
  • Chronic Disease / psychology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Marriage / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychology
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Sex Factors