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      The psychological profile of women presenting to a multidisciplinary clinic for chronic pelvic pain: high levels of psychological dysfunction and implications for practice

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          Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) is widely acknowledged as a common problem with significant consequences for those diagnosed with this condition. There is a lack of studies with good sample size that provide a comprehensive psychological profile of women presenting to specialist chronic pain clinics. Therefore, the objective of this study was to describe the psychological profile of a representative sample of women presenting with CPP at a tertiary referral center.


          This was a cross-sectional study. Women were asked to complete a questionnaire assessing symptoms of anxiety and depression, pain severity and interference, pain self-efficacy and catastrophizing beliefs, and sexual functioning.


          One-hundred and seventy-five women with CPP were recruited when they attended their initial assessment at a specialist CPP clinic of the Royal Women’s Hospital, a public hospital in Melbourne, Australia.


          Over 75% of the participants had experienced pain for longer than 2 years. Fifty-three percent of women experienced either moderate or severe anxiety, and 26.7% experienced moderate-to-severe depression. There were strong correlations between depressive symptoms and pain interference, pain catastrophizing and self-efficacy beliefs.


          Our findings confirm previous evidence for high levels of psychological distress and functional impairment associated with this condition, and extend these findings by including measures that are highly relevant to treatment planning, such as thinking styles and pain self-efficacy. Therefore, treatment of this complex condition needs to be holistic, and a multidisciplinary approach is likely to be the best way to achieve this.

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          Most cited references 32

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          Factors predisposing women to chronic pelvic pain: systematic review.

          To evaluate factors predisposing women to chronic and recurrent pelvic pain. DESIGN, DATA SOURCES, AND METHODS: Systematic review of relevant studies without language restrictions identified through Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Cochrane Library. SCISEARCH, conference papers, and bibliographies of retrieved primary and review articles. Two reviewers independently extracted data on study characteristics, quality, and results. Exposure to risk factors was compared between women with and without pelvic pain. Results were pooled within subgroups defined by type of pain and risk factors. There were 122 studies (in 111 articles) of which 63 (in 64,286 women) evaluated 54 risk factors for dysmenorrhoea, 19 (in 18,601 women) evaluated 14 risk factors for dyspareunia, and 40 (in 12,040 women) evaluated 48 factors for non-cyclical pelvic pain. Age < 30 years, low body mass index, smoking, earlier menarche (< 12 years), longer cycles, heavy menstrual flow, nulliparity, premenstrual syndrome, sterilisation, clinically suspected pelvic inflammatory disease, sexual abuse, and psychological symptoms were associated with dysmenorrhoea. Younger age at first childbirth, exercise, and oral contraceptives were negatively associated with dysmenorrhoea. Menopause, pelvic inflammatory disease, sexual abuse, anxiety, and depression were associated with dyspareunia. Drug or alcohol abuse, miscarriage, heavy menstrual flow, pelvic inflammatory disease, previous caesarean section, pelvic pathology, abuse, and psychological comorbidity were associated with an increased risk of non-cyclical pelvic pain. Several gynaecological and psychosocial factors are strongly associated with chronic pelvic pain. Randomised controlled trials of interventions targeting these potentially modifiable factors are needed to assess their clinical relevance in chronic pelvic pain.
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            Missing data in Likert ratings: A comparison of replacement methods.

            The effects of using two methods (item mean and person mean) for replacing missing data in Likert scales were studied. The results showed that both methods were good representations of the original data when both the number of respondents with missing data and the number of items missing were 20% or less. As the numbers of missing items and of respondents with missing data increased for the person mean substitution method, a spurious increase in the inter-item correlations (and, therefore, reliability) for the sale was produced. The item mean substitution reduced the reliability estimates of the scale. These results suggest caution in the use of the person mean substitution method as the numbers of missing items and respondents increase.
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              Adult attachment, anxiety, and pain self-efficacy as predictors of pain intensity and disability.

              Pain self-efficacy and anxiety have each been shown to contribute substantially to pain intensity and pain-related disability. Although adult attachment theory has been related separately to chronic pain, anxiety, and self-efficacy, it has not before been investigated with either pain self-efficacy or anxiety in the context of chronic pain. This study investigated the interrelations between these aspects of the chronic pain experience and their relative contributions towards pain intensity and disability. A clinical sample of 152 chronic pain patients participated in this study, completing self-report measures of attachment, self-efficacy, pain intensity, and disability, prior to attending a multidisciplinary pain clinic. Results revealed that fearful and preoccupied (anxious) attachment categories were associated with low pain self-efficacy, while high scores on the attachment dimension of comfort with closeness were linked with high pain self-efficacy, particularly for males. Insecure attachment (whether defined in terms of categories or dimensions) was related to higher levels of anxiety. Pain self-efficacy proved a stronger predictor of pain intensity than did anxiety and was a stronger predictor of disability than pain intensity or anxiety. In addition, comfort with closeness moderated the associations between pain self-efficacy and disability, pain self-efficacy and pain intensity, and anxiety and disability. Together, these findings support the value of adopting an attachment theoretical approach in the context of chronic pain. Treatment considerations and future research directions are considered.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                16 November 2016
                : 9
                : 1049-1056
                [1 ]Centre for Women’s Mental Health, Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville
                [2 ]Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne
                [3 ]Department of Physiotherapy
                [4 ]Department of Anaesthesia, Royal Women’s Hospital, Parkville, VIC, Australia
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Christina Bryant, The Royal Women’s Hospital, Locked Bag 300, Cnr Grattan St and Flemington Rd, Parkville VIC 3052, Australia, Email christina.bryant@ 123456thewomens.org.au
                © 2016 Bryant et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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