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Pain Research and Management
Volume 7 (2002), Issue 1, Pages 7-8

Anxiety and Related Factors in Chronic Pain

Gordon JG Asmundson

Regina Health District, and Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Clinicians often encounter patients who present with both chronic pain and elevated levels of anxiety. In some cases, the source of the anxiety is vague and diffuse. For others, there is an identifiable precipitating object, event or situation. For example, some patients with chronic pain are able to attribute their anxiety to the possibility of not regaining lost functional abilities, financial difficulties, feelings of social inadequacy, or uncertainty about the meaning and consequences of pain. The association between chronic pain and anxiety may not be particularly surprising when one considers that, in the acute phase, both pain and target-oriented anxiety (or fear) motivate actions that serve to minimize the threat and maximize the likelihood of successful escape. As well, their neurobiology, while distinct, interacts in the reticular system (1). Evaluations of the association between chronic pain and fear-relevant constructs were initiated in the 1960s and 1970s (2,3). It has only been of late, however, that theorists and researchers have begun to focus their attention on delineating the precise nature of the relationship and its specific implications for the assessment and management of pain.