The Relationship between Marital Status and Psychological Resilience in Chronic Pain
We examined the relationship between marital status and a 2-stage model of pain-related effect, consisting of pain unpleasantness and suffering. We studied 1914 chronic pain patients using multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) to clarify whether marital status was a determinant factor in the emotional or ideational suffering associated with chronic pain after controlling for pain sensation intensity, age, and ethnicity. Marital status was unrelated to immediate unpleasantness (). We found a strong association with emotional suffering () but not with negative illness beliefs (). Interestingly, widowed subjects experienced significantly less frustration, fear, and anger than all other groups (married, divorced, separated, or single). A final MANCOVA including sex as a covariate revealed that the emotional response to pain was the same for both widow and widower. Only those individuals whose spouse died experienced less emotional turmoil in the face of a condition threatening their lifestyle. These data suggest that after experiencing the death of a spouse, an individual may derive some “emotional inoculation” against future lifestyle threat.