Quality of life in chronic pain is more associated with beliefs about pain, than with pain intensity
Objectives. The objectives of this study were to investigate pain cognitions and quality of life of chronic pain patients referred to a multi-disciplinary university pain management clinic and to search for predictors of quality of life. Methods. A heterogeneous group of 1208 chronic pain patients referred to the Maastricht university hospital pain clinic participated in this cross-sectional study. At the initial assessment, all patients completed a set of questionnaires on demographic variables, cause, location, pain intensity (McGill pain questionnaire, MPQ), pain coping and beliefs (pain coping and cognition list, PCCL), pain catastrophising (pain catastrophising scale, PCS) and eight dimensions of quality of life (Rand-36). Results. The results showed that the present sample of heterogeneous pain patients reported low quality of life on each domain and significantly lower scores than has been found in previous studies with other Dutch chronic pain populations. Patients with low back pain and multiple pain localisations experienced most functional limitations. Women reported more pain, more catastrophising thoughts about pain, more disability and lower vitality and general health. When tested in a multiple regression analysis, pain catastrophising turned out to be the single most important predictor of quality of life. Especially social functioning, vitality, mental health and general health are significantly associated with pain catastrophising. Conclusions. Patients from a multi-disciplinary university pain clinic experience strikingly low quality of life, whereby low back pain patients and patients with multiple pain localisations have the lowest quality of life. Pain catastrophising showed the strongest association with quality of life, and stronger than pain intensity.