Solicitousness and chronic pain: a critical review
Toby RO Newton-John
Abstract: This article offers a critical review of the literature examining spouse responses to the pain behaviour of
chronic pain patients. An overview is given of 27 studies that have explored patient–spouse interactions
in chronic pain, together with a summary of the various .ndings. It is concluded that the body of research
is broadly supportive of the operant behavioural paradigm on which it has developed. Patients’ coping
with chronic pain is signi.cantly influenced by the ways in which those closest to them respond to their
expressions of discomfort. However, it is argued that the behavioural model alone is insuf.cient when
accounting for the complexity of pain couples’ interactions. The impact of the spouse’s response is mediated
by a range of cognitive and affective variables that have yet to be fully recognized in the research
literature. It is also argued that the operationalization of the construct of solicitousness, which is central
to research on chronic pain couples, is flawed. A number of suggestions for future theoretical and empirical
developments in this area are made.
Pain Reviews 2002; 9; 7-27
Being the dedicated scholar I am, I recently decided to see if solicitiousness had a similar effect in the short-term by breaking my ribs. Unfotunately, I've been a bit too dedicated to my research in the past. My wife has had to sit through too much blabber about solicitiousnes and pain, and therefore knows better than to pay attention to every whine.. So while I get plenty of sympathy, I still have to fetch my own Advil.
And I'm better-off for it.