Article

PAIN COMMUNICATION IN OSTEOARTHRITIS PATIENTS AND THEIR SPOUSES

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Abstract

Osteoarthritis (OA) patients who tend to hold back disclosing pain or other arthritis-related concerns to their spouse report poorer illness adjustment (Porter et al., 2008). Greater self-efficacy for communicating breast cancer symptoms is related to less holding back (Edmond et al., 2013); however, it is not known if patients’ self-efficacy for communicating pain is associated with more pain disclosure. Additionally, patients tend to report that their pain is not well understood by spouses (Herbette & Rimé, 2004) which may discourage disclosure or cause difficulties adjusting to chronic pain (Flor, Turk, & Scholz, 1987). The current study sought to examine the effects of self-efficacy for pain communication and perceptions of spouse understanding on rates of disclosure to one’s spouse. This study involved knee OA patients (N = 152) and examined self-efficacy, pain disclosure, and perceptions of spouse understanding across 3 time points of data collection spanning 18 months (T1, T2, T3). Consistent with hypotheses, regression analysis of T1 data showed that self-efficacy for pain communication predicted higher rates of patient pain disclosure, beyond the effects of marital satisfaction, patient sex, and OA severity (p < .05). The same effect was found for greater spouse understanding at T1 (p < .05). Contrary to hypotheses, we found no longitudinal effects of self-efficacy (T1-T2: p = .24; T2-T3: p = .93) or understanding (T1-T2: p = .81, T2-T3: p = .17) on pain disclosure. Findings suggest that patient and spouse factors are influential in patients’ concurrent level of pain disclosure.

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