AbstractBackground and aimsWe explore the relationship between behaviour and cognition in chronic pain by applying Action Identification Theory (AIT). AIT holds that every action may be construed in several ways. High level construals confer greater meaning than lower level construals. When an action is interrupted a lower level, more concrete identity with reduced meaning is elicited. We hypothesized that interference of activity by chronic pain affects the meaning ascribed to activity and thus a person’s overall sense of meaning in life.MethodsIn Study 1, a measure of Action Identification in Pain (AIP) is developed. In Study 2, the AIP was administered to 47 chronic pain patients who also completed the Meaningful Life Measure and measures of pain interference, depression, acceptance and optimism.ResultsHigh levels of action identification were positively correlated with meaning in life and high levels of interference were negatively correlated with meaning in life. Contrary to expectation interference and action identification were not associated. Further analyses showed that inclusion of depression, acceptance and optimism eliminated the effect of pain interference but only optimism abolished the effect of action identification.ConclusionChronic pain patients holding higher levels of action identification report a greater sense of meaning in life. Meaning in life is also associated with the amount of interference of behavioural activity. The anticipated relationship between action identification and interference was not observed. The present evidence suggests that interference and action identification contribute independently to a person’s sense of meaning in life.
Scandinavian Journal of Pain – de Gruyter
Published: Dec 29, 2017
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