Mun, C.J., Davis, M.C., Molton, I.R., Karoly, P., Suk, H.W., Ehde, D.M., . . . Jensen, M.P. (2019). Personal resource profiles of individuals with chronic pain: Sociodemographic and pain interference differences. Rehabilitation Psychology, 64(3), 245–262. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/rep0000261
For individuals with chronic pain, their personal resources, rather than their pain intensity, often predicts what impact the pain has on their daily lives (pain interference). Modifiable personal resources include sense of resilience, social support, pain acceptance, and sleep quality.
Identifying groups of individuals based on profiles of personal resources can help clinicians to develop personalized chronic pain treatment plans. To that end, Mun et al. looked at two separate samples of individuals to identify different personal resource profiles/groups, explore sociodemographic differences between the groups, and examine group differences in pain interference.
Study 1 focused on 220 individuals with fibromyalgia who tracked their pain, physical, psychological, and social experiences on a digital diary for 21 days. Study 2 examined the annual survey results of 483 individuals with long-term neurological/neuromuscular disease or injury and chronic pain over a four-year period. Both studies measured participants’ modifiable personal resources to create subgroup classes.
The authors identified three subgroups of individuals with pain in both studies: High, Moderate and Low Personal Resource groups. Analyses found that people in the Low Personal Resource groups had significantly lower annual income than those in the other two groups.
In Study 1, while there were some depressive symptoms reported by individuals in all three subgroups, only participants in the Low Personal Resource group reported symptom levels that met the criteria for diagnosis of clinical depression. When the researchers controlled for pain intensity and depressive symptoms, they found no differences in levels of pain interference over the 21 days between the High and Low Personal Resource groups. However, the Moderate group displayed significantly higher levels of pain interference than the High Personal Resource group.
In Study 2, all three personal resource groups differed in their levels of pain interference at the beginning of the study, with the Low Personal Resource group reporting the most pain interference. These differences remained stable across the four years of the study.
Based on these findings, the authors recommend that clinicians consider economic disparities when developing their treatment plans and think creatively to help people of lower socioeconomic status access nonpharmacological pain treatments, such as through telepsychology or group interventions with rolling admission. Patients with fibromyalgia may need a more thorough assessment of depression compared with those with other chronic pain conditions.
To help reduce the duration and impact of pain on the daily lives of people with neurological/neuromuscular disability, psychologists may wish to focus treatment on increasing these patients’ personal coping resources including sense of resilience, social support, pain acceptance, and sleep quality.