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Emotion regulation and pain : a daily process study of individuals with rheumatoid arthritis Welsted, Alison Carol.

Abstract

Whereas the link between emotions and pain is well-established (e.g., Craig, 1999), the impact of managing emotions is uncertain. The current study used a daily process methodology to investigate the prospective relationship between daily emotion regulation and evening pain intensity. One hundred and seventeen individuals with rheumatoid arthritis took part in an initial background interview, followed by seven days of twice-daily telephone interviews, during which participants were asked about emotions and pain. Results of hierarchical linear modeling indicated that higher levels of daily emotion regulation were associated with significantly less evening pain. Further, maintaining or containing, as well as recovering (from), emotions were each independently associated with significantly less evening pain. Moreover, the current study addressed gaps in the literature by establishing these associations above and beyond the influence of baseline pain intensity and baseline morning emotions, as well as on a subsample of days when higher than average morning pain indicated the presence of undesirable emotions to be regulated. This prospective relationship between emotion regulation and pain intensity was largely driven by regulating depressive emotion, whereas, in previous research, regulating anxious emotion was found to be more influential (Pauqet, Kergoat, & Dube, 2005). This novel finding underscores the importance of the additional controls applied in the current study. In sum, these findings highlight the importance of investigating the impact of dynamic emotion regulation on the day-to-day pain experiences of individuals with chronic pain and suggest potentially fruitful directions for future pain management interventions.

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