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As families maintain the primary responsibility for the care of the chronic painsufferer, this paper examines the family's aetiological role in chronic pain, the ways in which the family influences and maintains pain, and the impact that chronic pain has on the family unit Although some of the research is contentious, it can be concluded that, (a) there is a tendency for patients to come from families which include another member suffering from pain or illness, (b) that it is conceivable that spouses reinforce pain behaviours in their partners, and (c) that it is possible that the chronic pain sufferer may significantly subscribe to poor marital relationships, poor sexual adjustment and high levels of emotional distress