-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Chronic pain can hinder
communication between spouses, which, in turn, can impair the
affected partner's ability to cope with the pain, according to a
Previous research has shown that validation of a spouse's
emotions (showing respect and acceptance) promotes emotional
control, trust and closeness, while invalidation of emotions
(showing hostility or no interest) increases emotional distance and
is associated with poor adjustment within the marriage and
This new study included 78 U.S. adults with chronic pain and
their spouses. Women accounted for 58 percent of the spouses with
pain. Low back pain was the most common type of major pain and the
leading diagnoses were osteoarthritis, disc problems and
The participants were interviewed for three hours, with the
final 15 minutes focused on a difficult topic, such as family
finances. The couples were told to discuss and make progress toward
resolving the issue.
The study was recently published in the
Journal of Pain.
The researchers found that husbands with pain were more likely
to respond negatively to invalidation from their spouse. The
finding that men, either as the spouse with or without pain, seemed
to be more sensitive to their partners' responses surprised the
researchers, according to a news release from the American Pain
Previous studies found that women are more likely to experience
greater pain, distress and depression.
It may be that pain is more disruptive to a husband's
traditional roles, such as being the family provider, according to
study author Laura Leong and colleagues. This may make a man more
vulnerable to emotional upset in response to invalidation from his
spouse, said the researchers from Wayne State University in Detroit
and the Norwegian Center for Addiction Research.
The study authors added that their findings show patient gender
is an important factor when assessing and treating pain patients
and couples. Interventions should be aimed at the couples, not just
the pain patient, they concluded.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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