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Significant Others in the Chronicity of Pain and Disability 

Significant Others in the Chronicity of Pain and Disability
Chapter:
Significant Others in the Chronicity of Pain and Disability
Author(s):

Annmarie Cano

and Laura Leong

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199558902.003.0096
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date: 14 May 2021

Pain occurs within an interpersonal context. Indeed, interpersonal processes including marital functioning are associated with physiological and immune processes that affect health and pain (Kiecolt-Glaser & Newton 2001). Marital distress, as well as maladaptive interaction, is associated with pain, interference, and depression in persons with chronic pain (Leonard et al. 2006). Family members can also be affected by pain, in turn contributing to patients’ adjustment (Coyne & Fiske 1992; Leonard et al. 2006). The purpose of this chapter is to examine the manner in which the social context might contribute to the chronicity of pain. Unfortunately, this is a topic that has received little attention in the literature. To address this topic, we provide an overview of the theoretical and empirical literature that suggests pathways through which relationships with significant others may foster the development of chronic pain from acute states. We also review theoretical work that suggests other mechanisms through which relationships may play a role in the development of chronic pain. We conclude by offering an integrative model and recommendations for further research that might contribute to the knowledge on the extent to which close relationships impact pain over time.

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