This study examined the relationship between catastrophizing and patient-perceived partner responses to pain behaviors. The Catastrophizing subscale of the Cognitive Coping Strategy Inventory and the West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory were completed by 62 adult chronic pain patients. Consistent with past research, catastrophizing, and patient-perceived solicitous partner behaviors were positively correlated with negative pain outcomes. The communal coping theory of catastrophizing suggests that catastrophizing might be undertaken to solicit support and empathy from others. However, catastrophizing was not related to perceived solicitous partner behavior in this study. Rather, catastrophizing was associated with perceived punishing partner responses. Implications are that catastrophizing and perceived solicitous partner behaviors are independently associated with pain and that catastrophizing may not be reinforced by empathy from significant others.

Comment: The psychologic issue, then, may be to recognize both sets of behaviors affecting outcomes in families of patients with chronic pain.—Stewart J. Tepper