Catastrophizing is widely recognized as an important risk factor for adverse pain-related outcomes. However, questions remain surrounding the details of its assessment. In particular, recent laboratory studies suggest that evaluation of "situational" catastrophizing (ie, catastrophizing measured during or directly after the administration of noxious stimulation) may provide information distinct from that obtained by standard, or "dispositional" measures, which assess individuals' recall of catastrophizing in daily life. However, comparatively little research has systematically investigated the interrelationships and properties of these 2 different forms of pain-related catastrophizing. The current study evaluated both situational and dispositional catastrophizing measures within multiple samples: healthy individuals (N = 84), patients with painful temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD; N = 48), and patients with painful arthritis (N = 43). All participants first completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), and then underwent psychophysical pain testing, which included heat, cold, and pressure pain. Participants then completed a situational catastrophizing measure with reference to the laboratory pain he/she had just undergone. Situational catastrophizing scores were not significantly correlated with dispositional PCS scores in the healthy participants and arthritis patients, though they were associated in TMD patients. Situational catastrophizing was more strongly associated with experimental pain responses than dispositional PCS scores for the healthy subjects and arthritis patients. In general, higher levels of situational catastrophizing were associated with lower pain thresholds and higher pain ratings across all 3 samples. The findings highlight the importance of multidimensional assessment of pain-related catastrophizing, and suggests a role for measuring catastrophizing related to specific, definable events. Perspective: This study adds to a growing literature examining catastrophizing. Our findings highlight the potential importance of the multidimensional assessment of pain-related catastrophizing, and suggest a role for measuring catastrophizing related to specific, definable events.
- Situational catastrophizing
- dispositional catastrophizing
- experimental pain
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine