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Papers of the Week

2020 Apr 24

J Interpers Violence

Exposure to Potentially Traumatic Events, Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms, Pain Catastrophizing, and Functional Somatic Symptoms Among Individuals With Varied Somatic Symptoms: A Moderated Mediation Model.


The relationships between exposure to potentially traumatic events (PTEs), as well as posttraumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) and somatic syndromes, have recently been exemplified. Exposure to PTEs can also set in motion complex psychological processes such as pain catastrophizing that is associated with PTSS and somatic syndromes. However, the specific moderating role of pain catastrophizing in these links remains relatively unexamined. The present study aims to assess a moderated mediation model in which catastrophizing will moderate the indirect effect of exposure to PTEs on the number of somatic symptoms and chronic pain severity via PTSS, among individuals with somatic syndromes. A volunteers' sample of 175 Israeli adults with varied somatic symptoms responded to online validated self-report questionnaires in a cross-sectional designed study. Participants' self-reported PTSS rates (57.1%) were high. PTSS and pain catastrophizing, but not exposure to PTEs, were related to chronic pain severity. Interestingly, a moderated mediation analysis indicated that the indirect effect of catastrophizing in the relation between exposure to PTEs and the number of somatic symptoms via PTSS existed only among those with high levels of catastrophizing. The present study highlights the assumption that functional somatic syndromes (FSS) have much in common. Our findings support a moderated mediation model that begins with exposure to PTEs that leads to PTSS, which in turn increase the number of somatic symptoms. Higher levels of pain catastrophizing might attenuate this indirect link by affecting the interpretation of PTSS and create a vulnerability to more somatic symptoms. Thus, changes in cognitive-sensory processing in the form of catastrophic thinking can affect psychobiological processes and heighten sensitivity to stimuli arising in the body and should be considered as possible target for future research and psychological interventions.