Insecure attachment style is associated with chronic widespread pain
Individuals with "insecure" adult attachment styles have been shown to experience more pain than people with secure attachment, though results of previous studies have been inconsistent. We performed a cross-sectional study on a large population-based sample to investigate whether, compared to pain free individuals, subjects with chronic widespread pain were more likely to report insecure adult attachment style. Subjects in a population-based cross-sectional study completed a self-rated assessment of adult attachment style. Attachment style was categorised as secure (i.e., normal attachment style); or preoccupied, dismissing or fearful (insecure attachment styles). Subjects completed a pain questionnaire from which three groups were identified: pain free; chronic widespread pain; and other pain. Subjects rated their pain intensity and pain-related disability on an 11 point Likert scale. Subjects (2509) returned a completed questionnaire (median age 49.9 years (IQR 41.2-50.0); 59.2% female). Subjects with CWP were more likely to report a preoccupied (RRR 2.6; 95%CI 1.8-3.7), dismissing (RRR 1.9; 95%CI 1.2-3.1) or fearful attachment style (RRR 1.4; 95%CI 1.1-1.8) than those free of pain. Among CWP subjects, insecure attachment style was associated with number of pain sites (Dismissing: RRR 2.8; 95%CI 1.2-2.3, Preoccupied: RRR=1.8, 95%CI 0.98-3.5) and degree of pain-related disability (Preoccupied: RRR=2.1, 95%CI 1.0-4.1), but not pain intensity. These findings suggest that treatment strategies based on knowledge of attachment style, possibly using support and education, may alleviate distress and disability in people at risk of, or affected by, chronic widespread pain.
Pain, 2009, Vol. 143, Issue 3, pp. 200 - 205
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