General psychological acceptance and chronic pain… [Eur J Pain. 2010] – PubMed – NCBI – free full-text PMC article
These results suggest that, when people with chronic pain are willing to have undesirable psychological experiences without attempting to control them, they may function better and suffer less. General acceptance may have a unique role to play in the disability and suffering of chronic pain beyond similar processes such as acceptance of pain or mindfulness.
Catastrophizing is often the primary target of the cognitive-behavioral treatment of chronic pain. Recent literature on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) suggests an important role in the pain experience for the concepts mindfulness and acceptance.
The results show that general psychological acceptance (measured with the AAQ-II) is a strong predictor of pain-related catastrophizing, independent of gender, age and pain intensity. Mindfulness (measured with the MAAS) did not predict levels of pain-related catastrophizing.
Acceptance of psychological experiences outside of pain itself is related to catastrophizing. Thus, acceptance seems to play a role in the pain experience and should be part of the treatment of chronic pain.
The focus of the ACT treatment of chronic pain does not necessarily have to be on acceptance of pain per se, but may be aimed at acceptance of unwanted experiences in general.
Mindfulness in the sense of “acting with awareness” is however not related to catastrophizing.
In chronic pain patients, acceptance of pain is associated with lower pain intensity, less pain-related anxiety and avoidance, less depression, less physical and psychosocial disability, more daily uptime and better work status
general psychological acceptance plays a unique role in the chronic pain experience, beyond similar processes such as acceptance of pain and mindfulness
In chronic pain patients, mindfulness accounts for a significant amount of variance in measures of depression, pain-related anxiety and physical, psychosocial and other types of disability