Volume 5, Article 16

Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional: A cross-sectional study of positive psychology variables in chronic back pain
Marianne Dillane, Mike Murphy, David O’Sullivan and Zelda Di Blasi

Citation: Dillane, M., Murphy, M., O’Sullivan, D., & Di Blasi, Z. (2021). Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional: A cross-sectional study of positive psychology variables in chronic back pain. European Journal of Applied Positive Psychology, 5, 16, 1-14. https://www.nationalwellbeingservice.org/volumes/volume-5-2021/volume-5-article-16/

Processing dates: Submitted 20th May 2021; Resubmitted 29th July2021; Accepted 11th August 2021; Published TBC

Volume 5, Article 16

Abstract
Background: Chronic back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Negative mental health outcomes, such as depression and anxiety, are common in those with  chronic pain. Positive Psychology Variables (PPVs) including mindfulness, gratitude, pain self-efficacy and self-compassion have variously been found to be associated with the experience of pain itself, and with mental health in those with pain.
Aims: The current study sought to assess the relationships of these variables to depression and satisfaction with life in people with chronic back pain.
Method: This was an online cross-sectional survey with data from 211 adults with chronic back pain living in Ireland and the UK.
Results: Controlling for demographic variables, personality, and level of pain, the four PPVs collectively explained 25.2% of variance in satisfaction with life scores, and 8.8% in depression scores. Gratitude was the strongest unique predictor.
Discussion: Dispositional or trait gratitude was found to be an important predictor of satisfaction with life and in depression in people with chronic back pain.
Conclusion: Positive psychology variables play an important role in pain-related outcomes. Future research should evaluate the role of gratitude interventions among people with chronic back pain.

Keywords: chronic pain; back pain; wellbeing; depression; gratitude; mindfulness; self-compassion; self-efficacy;
positive psychology


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Biographies
Marianne Dillane is with the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, T23 TK30 Cork, Ireland
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6465-5143

Mike Murphy is with the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, T23 TK30 Cork, Ireland
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8379-3813

David O’Sullivan is with the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, T23 TK30 Cork, Ireland
https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8083-6478

Zelda Di Blasi is with the School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, T23 TK30 Cork, Ireland
https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8950-4958