Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 216–228 | Cite as

Interpersonal Responses and Pain Management Within the US Military

  • Cindy A. McGeary
  • Tabatha H. Blount
  • Alan L. Peterson
  • Robert J. Gatchel
  • Willie J. Hale
  • Donald D. McGeary


Purpose Chronic pain poses a significant problem for the US military. The benefits of self-management treatments for chronic pain are well-documented, but interpersonal responses also influence physical and psychological health and may not be addressed through self-management treatments alone. The current study examines whether perceived interpersonal responses to pain, as measured by the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI), change as a result of participation in an intensive pain management program. It was hypothesized that interpersonal responses to pain would be significantly correlated to psychosocial and physical pain outcomes and that interpersonal responses to pain would change significantly for completers of a functional restoration (FR) program compared to those who were randomized to treatment-as-usual in the military medical system. Methods Forty-four participants were randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups. One treatment group received FR (n = 26) and the other group received treatment-as-usual (n = 18). Significant other responses to chronic pain were measured by the MPI (Pain 23(4):345–356, 1985). Participants also completed measures of impacted quality of life, reported disability, psychological distress, fear avoidance, pain interference, and physical activity. Results Perceived higher punishing responses from a significant other were significantly related to worse physical health-related quality of life (p = .037), work-related fear avoidance (p = .008), pain interference (p = .026), affective distress (p = .039), and pain while lifting (p = .017). Perceived higher solicitous responses from significant others were significantly associated with lower mental health-related quality of life (p = .011), household activity (p = 017), general activity (p = .042), self-reported disability (p = .030), lifting capacity (p = .005), and aerobic capacity (p = .009). Conclusions While findings are preliminary and of limited scope, it appears that the perception of significant others’ responses may be impacted by psychosocial and physical pain outcomes and may change after treatment. More work in this area is needed to uncover the benefits one might achieve when a significant other is included within the FR treatment framework.


Pain management Military personnel Rehabilitation Cognitive behavioral therapy Social support 



The authors’ time and effort in preparation of this manuscript was supported in part by a research grant to the STRONG STAR Multidisciplinary PTSD Research Consortium from the US Department of Defense through the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Research Program (Alan L. Peterson: W81XWH-08-02-0109; Robert Gatchel: W81XWH-08-2-113).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors’ (Cindy McGeary, Tabatha Blount, Alan Peterson, Robert Gatchel, Willie Hale and Don McGeary) declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments of comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in this study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryThe University of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyThe University of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA

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