Background: Adverse life experiences have been identified as a possible vulnerability factor for chronic pain. This association could result from the effect of trauma on the psychological state of individuals. Previous studies found childhood trauma to be associated with pain catastrophizing and anxiety sensitivity, both of which have been associated with an increased risk of chronic pain. However, it is unknown whether trauma in adulthood affects these variables, and whether the effect on pain catastrophizing is independent of confounds such as depression and anxiety. Methods: In the current study we conducted an online survey in the United Kingdom in a chronic pain sample (N= 138; 123 females; age range 19-78). We analysed whether there is an association between different types of trauma (both in childhood and through the lifespan), pain catastrophizing and anxiety sensitivity while controlling for anxiety and depression. Results: We found that childhood trauma (particularly emotional abuse) significantly predicts pain catastrophizing, even when controlling for depression and anxiety, whereas it did not have a significant effect on anxiety sensitivity. Trauma through the lifespan (not childhood) did not have a significant effect on anxiety sensitivity, nor did it have a significant effect on pain catastrophizing. Conclusions: Our results show that the life stage in which trauma occurs is key in its psychological effects on chronic pain patients. Furthermore, it shows that trauma impacts some psychological variables but not others.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 10 Apr 2023|