International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Exercise Medicine Research Institute / School of Arts and Humanities
Chronic pain, experienced as pain persisting for three months or longer, is associated with risk of poor mental health and disability. Research has implicated adaptive goal processes as important to mental wellbeing in a range of populations. However, research has rarely assessed these mechanisms in relation to pain characteristics and mental wellbeing in chronic pain populations. This study aimed to examine the potentially mediating roles of goal flexibility and goal tenacity in the relationships between pain intensity and pain interference and mental wellbeing among individuals with chronic pain. Community members who self-identified as experiencing non-cancer chronic pain (N = 315) completed an online self-report survey on goal tenacity, goal flexibility, mental wellbeing, pain intensity, and pain interference. Unexpectedly, pain intensity was not significantly related to mental wellbeing, when controlling for pain interference. However, pain interference was directly and significantly associated with mental wellbeing. Both goal flexibility and goal tenacity mediated the relationship between pain interference and mental wellbeing, whilst controlling for pain intensity. The results provide support for the protective role of adaptive goal processes in mental wellbeing in those with chronic pain and highlight the importance of pain interference in relation to mental wellbeing.
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