Higher self-perceived stress reactivity is associated with increased chronic pain risk. Academic Article uri icon


  • INTRODUCTION: Experiencing stress can contribute to unfavorable pain experiences, but outcomes vary across individuals. Evidence suggests that a person's specific reactivity to stressful events may influence pain responses. Previous studies measuring physiological stress reactivity have found associations with pain both clinically and in the laboratory. However, the time and cost required for testing physiological stress reactivity may limit clinical application. OBJECTIVE: Self-reported perception of one's own stress reactivity has been shown to correlate with physiological stress reactivity in relation to health outcomes and may represent a valuable tool in clinical pain assessment. METHODS: Using data from the Midlife in the US survey, we selected participants who did not have chronic pain at baseline (n = 1512) and who had data at follow-up 9 years later. Stress reactivity was assessed using a subscale of the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire. We conducted a binary logistic regression to determine the odds of developing chronic pain, controlling for demographics and other health-related variables. RESULTS: Results indicate that higher reported stress reactivity at baseline increased the odds of developing chronic pain at follow-up (odds ratio (OR) = 1.085, 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.021, 1.153), P = 0.008), with the only other significant predictor being the number of chronic conditions (OR = 1.118, 95% CI (1.045, 1.197), P = 0.001). CONCLUSION: Findings provide evidence for the predictive criterion validity of self-reported stress reactivity in the context of chronic pain risk. More generally, with increased need for virtual assessment and care, self-reported stress reactivity may be a useful, time-efficient, and cost-efficient tool for predicting pain outcomes in research and clinical contexts.

published proceedings

  • Pain Rep

altmetric score

  • 6.95

author list (cited authors)

  • Boring, B. L., Richter, A., & Mathur, V. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Boring, Brandon L||Richter, Alison||Mathur, Vani A

publication date

  • March 2023