Resilience and Vulnerability Mechanisms in the Within-Day Pain Coping Process: Test of a Two-Factor Mediation Model

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Current models of pain coping typically focus on how pain contributes to poor physical and psychological functioning. Researchers have argued that this focus on the negative consequences is too narrow

Current models of pain coping typically focus on how pain contributes to poor physical and psychological functioning. Researchers have argued that this focus on the negative consequences is too narrow and does not account for times when individuals are able to maintain meaningful functioning despite their pain. Thus, the current study sought to investigate the day-to-day processes that both help and hinder recovery from pain and persistence towards daily goals. Specifically, the present study tested: a) a two-factor model of risk and resilience “factors” that capture key processes across affective, cognitive and social dimensions of functioning, and b) whether the relation between morning pain and end-of-day physical disability is mediated by increases in these afternoon risk and resilience factors. Within-day study measures were collected for 21 days via an automated phone system from 220 participants with Fibromyalgia. The results of multi-level confirmatory factor analysis indicated that, consistent with prediction, risk and resilience do constitute two factors. Findings from multilevel structural equation models also showed resilience factor mediated the link between late morning increases in pain and end-of-day disability, in line with hypotheses. Although the vulnerability factor as a whole did not mediate the within-day link between pain and disability, pain-catastrophizing individually did serve as a significant mediator of this relation. This study was the first to empirically test a within-day latent factor model of resilience and vulnerability and the first to capture the multidimensional nature of the pain experience by examining mechanisms across affective, cognitive and social domains of functioning. The findings of the current study suggest that in addition to studying the processes by which pain has a negative influence on the lives of pain sufferers, our understanding of the pain adaptation process can be further improved by concurrently examining mechanisms that motivate individuals to overcome the urge to avoid pain and to function meaningfully despite it.