International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 217–229 | Cite as

Associations of Pain Intensity and Frequency With Loneliness, Hostility, and Social Functioning: Cross-Sectional, Longitudinal, and Within-Person Relationships

  • Ian A. BoggeroEmail author
  • John A. Sturgeon
  • Anne Arewasikporn
  • Saul A. Castro
  • Christopher D. King
  • Suzanne C. Segerstrom



The current studies investigated associations between pain intensity and pain frequency with loneliness, hostility, and social functioning using cross-sectional, longitudinal, and within-person data from community-dwelling adults with varying levels of pain.


Secondary analysis of preexisting data was conducted. Study 1 investigated cross-sectional (baseline data: n = 741) and longitudinal (follow-up data: n = 549, observed range between baseline and follow-up: 6–53 months) associations. Study 2 tested within-person associations using daily diaries across 30 days from a subset of the participants in Study 1 (n = 69).


Cross-sectionally, pain intensity and frequency were associated with higher loneliness (βintensity = 0.16, βfrequency = 0.17) and worse social functioning (βintensity = − 0.40, βfrequency = − 0.34). Intensity was also associated with higher hostility (β = 0.11). Longitudinally, pain intensity at baseline predicted hostility (β = 0.19) and social functioning (β = − 0.20) at follow-up, whereas pain frequency only predicted social functioning (β = − 0.21). Within people, participants reported higher hostility (γ = 0.002) and worse social functioning (γ = − 0.013) on days with higher pain, and a significant average pain by daily pain interaction was found for loneliness. Pain intensity did not predict social well-being variables on the following day.


Pain intensity and frequency were associated with social well-being, although the effects were dependent on the social well-being outcome and the time course being examined.


Acute pain Biopsychosocial Community-dwelling adults Social well-being 


Funding Information

This research was funded by the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health under Award Numbers F31AG048692, R01AG026006, and K02AG033629 and by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society under Award Number MB0026.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian A. Boggero
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • John A. Sturgeon
    • 3
  • Anne Arewasikporn
    • 4
    • 5
  • Saul A. Castro
    • 6
  • Christopher D. King
    • 2
    • 7
  • Suzanne C. Segerstrom
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical PsychologyCincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical CenterCincinnatiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Anesthesiology and Pain MedicineUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Rehabilitation MedicineUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence-WestVA Puget Sound Health Care SystemSeattleUSA
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  7. 7.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Cincinnati College of MedicineCincinnatiUSA

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