The role of positive affect in pain and its treatment

Patrick H. Finan, Eric L. Garland

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


OBJECTIVE:: This narrative review summarizes and integrates the available literature on positive affect (PA) and pain to: (1) provide a brief overview of PA and summarize the key findings that have emerged in the study of PA and pain; (2) provide a theoretical foundation from which to understand how PA operates in the context of chronic pain (CP); and (3) highlight how the prevailing psychosocial treatments for CP address PA in the therapeutic context, and offer suggestions for how future treatment development research can maximize the benefit of PA for patients with CP. RESULTS:: In experimental studies, the evidence suggests PA is analgesic. In clinical studies, the association of PA and pain is dynamic, time variant, and may be best considered in context of its interacting role with negative affect. DISCUSSION:: We offer an "upward spiral" model of PA, resilience and pain self-management, which makes specific predictions that PA will buffer maladaptive cognitive and affective responses to pain, and promote active engagement in valued goals that enhance CP self-management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-187
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Journal of Pain
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 21 2015


  • chronic pain
  • pain sensitivity
  • positive affect
  • positive emotion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

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