Positive character traits of patients with chronic pain who display catastrophizing and fear avoidance behaviour

Cocciuti, Kim
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Background: Fear avoidance behaviour and pain catastrophizing are poor outcomes predictors in pain management. Positive character traits contribute towards a resilient mind-set for patients facing the adversity of chronic disability or illness. Objectives: To establish the presence of positive character traits amongst participants experiencing chronic pain, and whether a relationship between positive character traits and fear avoidance behaviour and/or pain catastrophizing exist. Methods: 31 participants experiencing chronic pain completedself-reporting questionnaires. The Tampa Scale for Kinesiophobia-17 (TSK), Pain Catastrophising Scale (PCS) and Adapted Inventory of Virtues and Strengths (AIVS) was used to determine the presence of fear avoidance behaviour, pain catastrophizing and positive character traits (emotional transcendence, practical wisdom, integrity, courage and commitment to action), respectively. Pearson’s product-moment correlations were used to explore the relationship between AIVS subscales and the PCS subscales and total score, and the AIVS subscales and the TKS score. Results: A sample of 31 participants with a mean age of 53 years from a private physiotherapy practice in the Johannesburg area and the Helen Joseph Pain Clinic (HJPC) participated in the study. Pain catastrophizing and fear avoidance had a prevalence of 42 % and 71%, respectively. All participants possessed strong positive character scores across all subgroups. Commitment to Action (85%), Integrity (85%) and Emotional Transcendence (84%) were the strongest traits followed by Practical Wisdom (79%) and Courage (71%). There were no associations detected between the TKS or PCS and any of the AIVS subscales. Conclusion: Albeit no established associations, positive character traits can be measured and do exist amongst individuals with chronic pain and should considered as a tool in self-management rehabilitation programmes to enhance resilience, function, and participation.
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Physiotherapy