Acceptance of pain, self-compassion and psychopathology: Using the Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire to identify patients' subgroups



The present study explores whether specific subgroups of patients could be identified based on Chronic Pain Acceptance Questionnaire scores. A battery of self-report questionnaire was used to assess acceptance of pain, self-compassion and psychopathology in 103 participants with chronic pain, from Portuguese health care units.

K-Means cluster were performed and the results supported three subgroups of patients (low acceptance subgroup; high acceptance subgroup; intermediate subgroup with activity engagement near to the mean and low willingness to pain).

One-way ANOVA's showed that the three subgroups identified differed significantly from each other on psychopathology and self-compassion. Results indicated that the intermediate subgroup presented less depression and stress, compared with the low acceptance subgroup. In what concerns self-compassion, the low acceptance subgroup reported higher self-judgment, isolation and over identification, compared with the intermediate subgroup. These subgroups also differed from each other in common humanity and mindfulness. Implications and clinical utility of the results were discussed, suggesting the increase of willingness to pain as an important key in chronic pain interventions. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Key Practitioner Message:

• Findings suggest the buffer effect of activity engagement in chronic pain on psychopathology;

• The expressive relation between activity engagement and self-compassion in chronic pain;

• The presence of an intermediate subgroup of patients suggests that the increase of willingness to pain may add unique benefits in the treatment of chronic pain.