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Researchers have hypothesized that pain catastrophizing has a social function. Although work has focused on the catastrophizing of individuals with chronic pain (ICPs), little is known about the pain catastrophizing of their significant others. The purpose of this study was to test the validity of a revised version of the original PCS [Sullivan MJL, Bishop S, Pivik J. The pain catastrophizing scale: development and validation. Psychol Assess 1995; 7: 432–524.] in which individuals were instructed to report on their own catastrophizing about their significant other’s pain. In Study 1, a confirmatory factor analysis was conducted to determine the factor structure of the PCS-Significant Other (PCSS) in a diverse sample of university undergraduates (n=264). An oblique second-order 3-factor model with two cross-loadings provided the best fit and this model was invariant across gender and racial groups. This factor structure was cross-validated in Study 2 with a second sample of university undergraduates (n=213). Results indicated that the 3-factor structure with two cross-loadings was a viable model of significant others’ pain catastrophizing across gender and racial groups. In Study 3, this factor structure was replicated and the content validity of the PCS-S was examined in a sample of adult ICPs and their spouses (n=111). Spouse catastrophizing was related to ICP pain severity and interference as well as both spouses’ depressive symptoms. In addition, ICPs were at a greater risk for psychological distress when both spouses had higher levels of catastrophizing. The PCS-S has the potential to be a useful and valid measure of pain catastrophizing in the significant others of ICPs.


Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This article is the author's manuscript and was previously published in final edited form as: Pain. 2005 December 15; 119(1-3): 26–37. doi:10.1016/j.pain.2005.09.009

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