University of Washington

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine

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Coping with chronic pain among younger, middle-aged, and older adults living with neurological injury and disease


Molton I, Jensen MP, Ehde DM, Carter GT, Kraft G, Cardemas DD.



Publication Info:

Journal of Aging and Health, 20(8):972-996


Objective. This article compares use of pain coping strategies among older, middle-aged, and younger adults living with chronic pain and seeks to determine whether the relationship between pain severity and coping is moderated by age. Method. Participants were 464 adults reporting chronic pain secondary to multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, or neuromuscular disease. Participants completed a survey including measures of pain severity and the Chronic Pain Coping Inventory. Results. After controlling for clinical and demographic variables, older adults (older than 60) reported a wider range of frequently used strategies and significantly more frequent engagement in activity pacing, seeking social support, and use of coping self-statements than did younger or middle-aged adults. Moderation analyses suggest that, for younger adults, efforts at coping generally increased with greater pain severity, whereas this relationship did not exist for older adults. Discussion. These data suggest differences in the quantity and quality of pain coping among age groups.

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