Psychosocial Subgroups in Persons With Spinal Cord Injuries and Chronic Pain

Eva G. Widerström-Noga, Elizabeth Roy Felix, Yenisel Cruz-Almeida, Dennis C. Turk

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42 Scopus citations


Widerström-Noga EG, Felix ER, Cruz-Almeida Y, Turk DC. Psychosocial subgroups in persons with spinal cord injuries and chronic pain. Objectives: To define adaptational subgroups in people with chronic pain and spinal cord injury (SCI), and to compare these subgroups with respect to demographic factors, level of injury, functional independence, pain disability, depressed mood, social support, and life satisfaction. Design: Interviews. Setting: Veterans Affairs medical center and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Participants: Persons with SCI and chronic pain (N=190). Interventions: Not applicable. Main Outcome Measure: The Multidimensional Pain Inventory, SCI version. Results: Cluster analysis revealed 3 subgroups: (1) dysfunctional (34.6% of all participants), characterized by higher pain severity, life interference, and affective distress scores, and lower levels of life control and activities scores; (2) interpersonally supported (33.0% of participants), characterized by moderately high pain severity, and higher life control, support from significant others, distracting responses, solicitous responses, and activities scores; and (3) adaptive copers (32.4% of participants), characterized by lower pain severity, life interference, affective distress, support from significant others, distracting responses, solicitous responses, activities and higher life control scores. Compared with the dysfunctional subgroup, the interpersonally supported subgroup reported significantly greater social support and life satisfaction and less pain disability and emotional distress, despite moderately high pain severity. Conclusion: Three subgroups, independent of sex, pain duration, and functional status, were identified. Although severe pain significantly decreases life satisfaction after SCI, its impact is moderated by perceived social support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1628-1635
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2007


  • Pain
  • Pain measurement
  • Psychometrics
  • Rehabilitation
  • Social support
  • Spinal cord injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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