Psychosocial Correlates of Chronic Pain and Depression in Young Adults: Further Evidence of the Utility of the Profile of Chronic Pain: Screen (PCP: S) and the Profile of Chronic Pain: Extended Assessment (PCP: EA) Battery


Paul Karoly, PhD, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287, USA. Tel: 480-965-5404; Fax: 480-965-8544; E-mail:


Objective.  The goals of the present studies were 1) to determine the psychometric utility and norms of the Profile of Chronic Pain: Screen (PCP: S) in young adults (ages 17–24) with self-reported pain and 2) to compare non-, mildly-, and clinically-depressed young adults with chronic pain in their patterns of pain attitudes and pain beliefs as assessed by the Profile of Chronic Pain: Extended Assessment (PCP: EA) battery.

Methods.  Participants in the first study included 2,475 male and female college students drawn from undergraduate introductory psychology classes in a large western (U.S.) university. Study 2 participants were 275 male and female introductory psychology students, screened for chronic pain and depression from a cohort of 1,266 students.

Results.  Study 1 results confirmed the utility of the PCP: S as a screening tool for pain problems in young adults. Study 2 revealed that, although not differing in pain severity, clinically depressed participants differed from their nondepressed and mildly depressed peers in terms of enhanced catastrophizing tendencies and greater perceived disability. Both depressed groups scored lower on control beliefs than the nondepressed group. Moreover, the clinically depressed students reported the highest scores on pain-induced fear, differing from both the mildly depressed and the nondepressed. Finally, the three groups did not differ in their belief in a medical cure.

Conclusions.  Results suggest that depressed young persons with chronic pain demonstrate a pattern of negative attitudes and beliefs that could compromise their ability to flexibly adjust to changing life circumstances.