Pain-related catastrophizing: a daily process study

Judith A Turner, Lloyd Mancl, Leslie A Aaron
Pain 2004, 110 (1): 103-11
Little is known about the extent to which individuals vary versus remain stable in their pain-related catastrophizing, or to which catastrophizing is associated with pain and related problems on a daily basis. We used daily electronic interviews to examine the: (1) reliability and validity of a brief daily catastrophizing measure; (2) stability of catastrophizing; (3) patient characteristics associated with catastrophizing; (4) associations between catastrophizing and concurrent and subsequent outcomes (pain, activity interference, jaw use limitations, and negative mood), between and within patients; and (5) associations between pain and subsequent catastrophizing. One hundred patients with chronic temporomandibular disorder pain completed electronic interviews three times a day for 2 weeks [mean (SD) number of interviews=46 (15)]. The catastrophizing scale had high internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.95) and validity (r = 0.65 with the Coping Strategy Questionnaire Catastrophizing scale), and catastrophizing was stable (ICC=0.72) over time. Younger age and greater baseline depression, pain, and disability predicted greater daily catastrophizing. Daily catastrophizing was associated significantly with concurrent outcomes, between- and within-subjects (P < 0.001); however, associations with same-day subsequent outcomes were greatly attenuated after adjusting for prior outcome levels. Similarly, daily pain was associated significantly with subsequent catastrophizing, but this association was no longer statistically significant after adjusting for prior catastrophizing. The data indicate that catastrophizing is stable over short periods of time in the absence of substantial change in pain, and that within patients, times of greater catastrophizing are associated with worse pain, disability, and mood.

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