The role of coping in the development and treatment of chronic pain

Angela Dougall, Robert J. Gatchel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This Chapter comprehensively reviews the role of an individual's coping skills in the development and treatment of chronic pain. In the U.S.A. alone, there are more than 75 million people who suffer from pain, which is greater than the number of individuals with diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. In addition to the human suffering, there are enormous economic costs associated with chronic pain that exceed almost $125 billion each year in terms of medical care and lost productivity. In response to this major health problem, a great deal of clinical research has been conducted to evaluate the most therapeutic and cost-effective methods for managing chronic pain. It appears to us, from this research, that the biopsychosocial model of treatment has emerged as the most heuristic approach. The biopsychosocial model views physical disorders, such as chronic pain, as a result of the complex and dynamic interaction among physiologic, psychologic and social factors that perpetuate and may worsen the clinical presentation. In the present chapter, clinical research will be comprehensively reviewed that reveals the following: (1) Those individuals who lack adaptive coping skills for managing stressful situations are more susceptible to develop chronic pain after an acute pain episode; (2) Any comprehensive treatment program for chronic pain must include a psychosocial component that teaches patients to utilize more adaptive coping skills for handling stressful situations such as chronic pain.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWayfinding Through Life's Challenges
Subtitle of host publicationCoping and Survival
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9781611228663
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2011


  • Biopsychosocial model
  • Chronic pain
  • Coping
  • Health costs
  • Pain treatment


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