Aim: Trait mindfulness has been found to be inversely associated with emotional distress such as depression and anxiety among patients suffering from pain. The current study investigated the putative mechanisms underlying these associations by examining whether pain catastrophizing mediates the association between mindfulness and psychological distress and whether this model differs in patients suffering from chronic pain compared to patients experiencing nonchronic pain in a medical rehabilitation setting. Methods: Forty-eight patients in their subacute stage of recovery participated in the study. Seventeen participants had a diagnosis of chronic pain. Trait mindfulness was assessed using the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale, pain catastrophizing was assessed using the Pain Catastrophizing Scale, depression symptoms were assessed using the Patient Health Questionnaire, and anxiety was assessed using the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale. Two mediation models were used, with pain catastrophizing mediating the association between mindfulness and depression and anxiety. Results: Catastrophizing significantly mediated the association between trait mindfulness and depression (P < 0.05, confidence interval [CI] = −0.35, −0.05). Catastrophizing also mediated the relationship between trait mindfulness and anxiety (P < 0.05, CI = −0.34, −0.04). Two moderated mediation models were tested, in which pain catastrophizing fully mediated the relationship between trait mindfulness and depression and anxiety, but only in patients with chronic pain. Conclusions: The negative association between trait mindfulness and psychological distress may thus be partly attributed to pain catastrophizing: individuals high in trait mindfulness engage in less catastrophic thinking and therefore experience less distress. Importantly, this was only observed in the patients with chronic pain. These results further underscore the need to cope with pain catastrophizing and encourage mindfulness among patients with chronic pain.
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© 2020 World Institute of Pain
- chronic pain
- pain catastrophizing
- trait mindfulness