People with Chronic Pain and Caregivers: Experiencing Loneliness and Coping with It

  • Ami Rokach
  • Eyal Rosenstreich
  • Silviu Brill
  • Itay Goor Aryeh


The present study examined the experience of loneliness and the ways of coping with its pain as utilized by people with chronic pain and caregivers. Specifically, a large sample (N = 827) recruited in two major pain clinics in Israel, completed the Loneliness and the Coping with loneliness questionnaires. Results indicated that patients had higher scores than caregivers in Emotional distress, Social inadequacy and alienation, Interpersonal isolation, and in Self-alienation. There was no significant difference between the groups in the Growth and discovery subscale. Comparing patients and caregivers on coping with loneliness, patients had higher scores than caregivers in Reflection and acceptance, and in Self-development and understanding. No significant difference between the groups was found in Social support, Distancing and denial, Religion and faith, and on Increased activity.


Chronic pain Patients Caregivers Loneliness Coping with loneliness 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


The study was NOT funded.

Conflict of Interest

No conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

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

Verbal informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


  1. Cacioppo, S., Gripo, A. J., London, S., Goosens, L., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2015). Loneliness: Clinical import and interventions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10(2), 238–249.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Campbell-Sills, L., Stein, M. B., Sherbourne, C. D., Craske, M. G., Sullivan, G., Golinelli, D., & Roy-Byrne, P. (2013). Effects of medical comorbidity on anxiety treatment outcomes in primary care. Psychosomatic Medicine, 75(8), 713–720.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  3. Chentsova-Dutton, Y., Shucter, S., Hutchin, S., et al. (2002). Depression and grief reactions in hospice caregivers: From pre-death to 1 year afterwards. Journal of Affective Disorders, 69, 53–60.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Chin, J., Findler, L., Rokach, A., Lev, S., & Kollender, Y. (2013). The experience of loneliness among cancer patients and their caregivers. International Journal of Psychological Research, 8(2), 123–139.Google Scholar
  5. D’Ardenne, P. (2004). The couple sharing long-term illness. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 19(3), 291–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Dansie, E. J., & Turk, D. C. (2013). Assessment of patients with chronic pain. British Journal of Anesthesia, 111, 19–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Dempsey Wolf, L., & Davis, M. C. (2014). Loneliness, daily pain, and perceptions of interpersonal events in adults with fibromyalgia. Health Psychology, 33(9), 929–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gallo, C. L., & Matthews, A. K. (2003). Understanding the association between socioeconomic status and physical health: Do negative emotions play a role? Psychological Bulletin, 129(1), 10–51.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Hawkley, L. C., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2003). Loneliness and pathways to disease. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 17, 98–105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hawkley, L. C., Thisted, R. A., Masi, C. M., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2010). Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults. Psychology and Aging, 25(1), 132–141.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Jensen, M. P., & Patterson, D. R. (2014). Hypnotic approaches for chronic pain management clinical implications of recent research findings. American Psychologist, 69(2), 167–177.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. Jensen, M. P., & Turk, D. C. (2014). Contributions of psychology to the understanding and treatment of people with chronic pain: Why it matters to ALL psychologists. American Psychologist, 69(2), 105–118.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Kennedy, S., Keicolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (1988). Immunological consequences of acute and chronic stressors: Mediating role of interpersonal relationships. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 61, 77–85.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Kennedy, C. E., Moore, P. J., Peterson, R. A., Katzman, M. A., Vermani, M., & Charmak, W. D. (2011). What makes people anxious about pain? How personality and perception combine to determine pain anxiety responses in clinical and non-clinical populations. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 24(2), 179–200.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., & Glaser, R. (1992). Psychoneuroimmunology: Can psychological interventions modulate immunity? Special issue: Behavioural medicine: An update for the 1990’s. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60, 563–575.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., McGuire, L., Robles, T. F., & Glaser, R. (2002). Psychoneuroimmunology: Psychological influences on immune function and health. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 537–547.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Koening, H. G. (2006). Medicine, religion and health: Where science and spirituality meet. West Conshohocken: Templeton Foundation Press.Google Scholar
  18. Koopman, C., Hermanson, K., Diamond, S., Angell, K., & Spiegel, D. (1998). Social support, life stress, pain and emotional adjustment to advanced breast cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 7, 101–111.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Lazarus, R. S., Kanner, A. D., & Folkman, S. (1980). Emotions: A cognitive-phenomenological analysis. In R. Plutchik & H. Kellerman (Eds.), Theories of emotion (pp. 189–217). New York: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Molton, I. R., & Terrill, A. L. (2014). Overview of persistent pain in older adults. American Psychologist, 69(2), 197–207.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Neto, F., & Barros, J. (2000). Psychosocial concomitants of loneliness among students of Cape Verde and Portugal. Journal of Psychology, 134, 503–514.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Ong, A. D., Zautra, A. J., & Carrington Reid, M. (2014). Chronic pain and the adaptive significance of positive emotions. American Psychologist, 69(2), 283–284.Google Scholar
  23. Ornish, D. (1998). Love & survival: The scientific basis of healing power of intimacy. New York: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  24. Pinquart, M., Silbereisen, R. K., & Frohlich, C. (2009). Life goals and purpose in life in cancer patients. Support Care Cancer, 17, 253–259.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Piotrowski, C. (2014). Chronic pain patients and loneliness: A systematic review of the literature. In C. J. Kowalski, A. Rokach, & J. P. Cangemi (Eds.), Loneliness in life: Education, business, society. NY: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  26. Rainer, J. P., & McMurry, P. E. (2002). Caregiving at the end of life. Psychotherapy in Practice, 58, 1421–1431.Google Scholar
  27. Robinson, F. M., West, D., & Woodworth, D. (1995). Coping + plus: Dimensions of disability. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  28. Rokach, A. (1988). The experience of loneliness: A tri-level model. Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and applied, 122(6), 531–544.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rokach, A. (2003). Strategies of coping with loneliness throughout the lifespan. In N. J. Pallone (Ed.), Love, romance, sexual interaction (pp. 225-244). London, UK: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  30. Rokach, A. (2004). Loneliness in cancer and multiple sclerosis patients. Psychological Reports, 94, 637–648.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Rokach, A. (2014). Loss trauma & illness: Loneliness the inevitable repercussion. Psychology Journal, 11(1), 2–3.Google Scholar
  32. Rokach, A. (2015). Illness, hospitalization & loneliness. Jacobs Journal of Nursing and Care, 1(1) 004, 1–6.Google Scholar
  33. Rokach, A., & Brock, H. (1997). Loneliness & the effects of life changes. Journal of Psychology, 131(3), 284–298.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Rokach, A., & Brock, H. (1998). Coping with loneliness. The Journal of Psychology: Interdisciplinary and applied, 132(1), 107–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rokach, A., & Neto, F. (2000). Causes of loneliness in adolescence: A cross-cultural study. International Journal of Adolescence & Youth, 8, 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rokach, A., & Sha’ked, A. (2013). Together and lonely: Loneliness in intimate relationships–causes and coping. NY: Nova Pub.Google Scholar
  37. Rokach, A., Findler, L., Chin, J., Lev, S., & Kollender, Y. (2013). Cancer patients, their caregivers, and coping with loneliness. Psychology, Health & Medicine, 18(2), 135–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Rokach, A., Miller, Y., Shick, S., & Bercovitch, M. (2014). Coping with loneliness: Caregivers of cancer patients. Clinical Nursing Studies, 2(2), 42–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rosenstreich, E., & Margalit, M. (2015). Loneliness, mindfulness, and academic achievements: a moderation effect among first-year college students. The Open Psychology Journal, 8(1), 138-145.Google Scholar
  40. Stivers, R. (2004). Shades of loneliness: Pathologies of a technological society. N.Y: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  41. Taylor, S. E. (2009). Health psychology (7th ed.). NY: McGraw Hill.Google Scholar
  42. Theeke, L. A. (2009). Predictors of loneliness in U.S. adults over age sixty-five. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 23(5), 387–396.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Turk, D. C. (2004). Understanding pain sufferers: The role of cognitive processes. The Spine Journal, 4, 1–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Uchino, B. N., Cacioppo, J. T., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (1996). The relationship between social support and physiological processes: A review with emphasis on underlying mechanisms and implications for health. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 488–531.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Wittenberg-Lyles, E., Demiris, G., Oliver, D. P., & Burt, S. (2011). Reciprocal suffering: Caregiver concerns during hospice care. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 41, 383–393.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.York UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Walden UniversityMinneapolisUSA
  3. 3.Center for Academic StudiesOr YehudaIsrael
  4. 4.Department of Behavioral SciencePeres Academic CenterRehovotIsrael
  5. 5.Tel Aviv Medical CenterInstitute of Pain MedicineTel AvivIsrael
  6. 6.Sheba Medical CenterPain InstituteTel HashomerIsrael

Personalised recommendations