The neurobiological underpinnings of coping with pain

Robert R. Edwards, Claudia Campbell, Robert N. Jamison, Katja Wiech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The biopsychosocial model treats pain as resulting from a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Individual differences in approaches to coping with pain-related symptoms are important determinants of pain-related outcomes, and are often classified under the "psychological" category within the biopsychosocial model. However, engagement in various cognitive, affective, and behavioral pain-coping strategies appears to exert biological effects, which we review here. Pain-coping activities such as catastrophizing, distracting oneself from pain sensations, or reappraisal of pain may exert effects on activity in a variety of pain-processing and pain-modulatory circuits within the brain, as well affect the functioning of neuromuscular, immune, and neuroendocrine systems. The interface between pain-related neurobiology and the use of specific pain-coping techniques represents an important avenue for future pain research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-241
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Catastrophizing
  • Cognitive
  • Coping
  • Neurobiological
  • Pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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