Research Topic

Resilience Resources in Chronic Pain Patients: The Path to Adaptation

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The International Association for the Study of Pain has described pain as an unpleasant emotional and sensory experience that involves multiple factors. When pain persists over a long period, the experience becomes even more complex and difficult. Current empirical studies have identified chronic pain ...

The International Association for the Study of Pain has described pain as an unpleasant emotional and sensory experience that involves multiple factors. When pain persists over a long period, the experience becomes even more complex and difficult. Current empirical studies have identified chronic pain as a widespread health problem that is one of the most frequent causes of health care use and medication intake. Beyond the direct and indirect economic costs of chronic pain to the public health system, the personal costs of this condition to the pain patient and their family are of enormous relevance. Chronic pain interferes with daily activities and life goals, being commonly associated with other psychological (e.g. anxiety, depressive symptoms) and physical problems (e.g. insomnia, physical impairment), and with diminished health-related quality of life. The theoretical literature on chronic pain has investigated the way in which several emotional, motivational, cognitive, and behavioral variables cause disability in chronic pain patients. In this sense, the fear-avoidance models suggest that individuals with chronic pain and catastrophic thinking become fearful of pain and avoid any movement and activity that may provoke pain. This leads to their disengagement from meaningful activities and to disability and depression. However, according to the results of several studies, many chronic pain patients do not experience fear, depression, or disability. Individual differences affect the behaviour of chronic pain patients, and such behaviour can lead to either disability or capacity. Recent empirical studies have acknowledged the positive influence of resilience resources on adjustment to chronic pain in these patients. Variables that help patients to manage pain effectively include trait resilience, optimism, an accepting stance towards pain, extraversion, sense of humour, intelligence, social support, and the ability to self-regulate. Thus, despite having chronic pain, a resilient individual will have positive emotions and a good level of functioning. Patients with these positive characteristics may use effective coping strategies, make better use of health services and medication, have better goal-regulation, accept the situation, and maintain an appropriate functioning level. More research is needed to understand the mechanisms through which resilient resources are related to wellbeing in chronic pain patients.

Finally, improved resilient resources would have beneficial effects on the wellbeing of chronic pain patients. Positive psychology interventions attempt to increase the levels of resilient resources to achieve subjective wellbeing. Although growing evidence supports the benefits of positive psychology interventions, more research is needed on their effectiveness for reducing pain and improving function and well-being in individuals with chronic pain.

We welcome articles that are relevant to the Research Topic area. Any articles that address health conditions and diseases should also include chronic pain as a study variable. Articles on character strengths, self-efficacy, purpose in life, acceptance, flexibility, emotion regulation or goal regulation are within the scope of this Research Topic. We would also consider for publication original research on novel treatment approaches, as well as meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and critical review articles on state-of-the-art approaches to improving adaptation and wellbeing in chronic pain patients.


Keywords: Chronic Pain, resilient resources, adaptation, wellbeing, positive psychology


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