Background: Perceptions of pain as unfair are a significant risk factor for poorer physical and psychological outcomes in acute injury and chronic pain. Chief among the negative emotions associated with perceived injustice is anger, arising through frustration of personal goals and unmet expectations regarding others' behavior. However, despite a theoretical connection with anger, the social mediators of perceived injustice have not been demonstrated in chronic pain.
Purpose: The current study examined two socially based variables and a broader measure of pain interference as mediators of the relationships between perceived injustice and both anger and pain intensity in a sample of 302 patients in a tertiary care pain clinic setting.
Methods: Data from the Collaborative Health Outcomes Information Registry (CHOIR) were analyzed using cross-sectional path modeling analyses to examine social isolation, satisfaction with social roles and activities, and pain-related interference as potential mediators of the relationships between perceived injustice and both anger and pain intensity.
Results: When modeled simultaneously, ratings of social isolation mediated the relationship between perceived injustice and anger, while pain-related interference and social satisfaction did not. Neither social variable was found to mediate the relationship between perceived injustice and pain intensity, however.
Conclusions: The current findings highlight the strongly interpersonal nature of perceived injustice and anger in chronic pain, though these effects do not appear to extend to the intensity of pain itself. Nevertheless, the results highlight the need for interventions that ameliorate both maladaptive cognitive appraisal of pain and pain-related disruptions in social relationships.
Keywords: Anger; CHOIR; Chronic pain; Perceived injustice; Social function.