Survive or Thrive? Longitudinal Relation Between Chronic Pain and Well-Being

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Background: The minimal literature on the relation between chronic pain and both eudaimonic (EWB) and hedonic well-being (HWB) examines the relation cross-sectionally, and most studies have examined chronic pain’s effect only on psychopathology. Methods: Using a sample of 473 midlife and older adults with chronic pain, this study examined both the cross-sectional and longitudinal relations between chronic pain and EWB and HWB in addition to psychological distress. Results: Multiple-group longitudinal structural equation modeling revealed that chronic pain was related significantly and negatively to EWB and HWB, and significantly and positively to distress among both men and women. When examined longitudinally, chronic pain at time 1 was associated significantly only with decreased EWB at time 2, suggesting chronic pain’s risk to psychological functioning, especially because of its long-term effects on future EWB. Conclusions: Our study provides a comprehensive picture of the way chronic pain is associated both with EWB and HWB, in addition to psychological distress. Further, chronic pain may have a lasting influence on EWB, while it may have little predictive value for future HWB and psychological distress. Our study supports well-being’s relevance to chronic pain research and has the potential to guide prevention strategies and treatment for chronic pain using a positive psychological framework.

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