Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 435–453

Perception of traumatic onset, compensation status, and physical findings: Impact on pain severity, emotional distress, and disability in chronic pain patients

  • Dennis C. Turk
  • Akiko Okifuji

DOI: 10.1007/BF01857677

Cite this article as:
Turk, D.C. & Okifuji, A. J Behav Med (1996) 19: 435. doi:10.1007/BF01857677


The primary purposes of the present study were to investigate the roles of physical findings, financial compensation, and types of pain onset (i.e., trauma vs. insidious onset) on adaptation by chronic pain patients. Comparisons between patients who were receiving or seeking compensation and those who were not revealed that, despite comparable degrees of physical findings, the compensation status was associated with reports of (a) more severe pain, (b) greater disability, (c) higher levels of emotional distress, and (d) greater life interference. The compensation status of 74% of the patients was correctly classified by combination of pain severity, perceived disability, and life interference. Objective indices of physical findings didnot significantly improve classification accuracy. In order to eliminate the possible confound of compensation, analyses of the relationship between the types of onset and chronic pain were conducted only for a subset of patients who were not receiving or actively seeking compensation. The results indicated that the patients who attributed their pain to a specific trauma reported significantly higher levels of emotional distress, life interference, and higher levels of pain severity than did the patients who indicated that their pain had an insidious or spontaneous onset, regardless of the extent of objective physical findings.

Key Words

compensation disability traumatic onset insidious onset patient perception physical findings 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dennis C. Turk
    • 1
  • Akiko Okifuji
    • 1
  1. 1.Pain Evaluation and Treatment InstituteUniversity of Pittsburgh School of MedicinePittsburgh

Personalised recommendations