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Papers of the Week

Papers: 13 Jun 2020 - 19 Jun 2020


Human Studies

2020 Jun 14

J Pain

“What Should I Do First?” The Effect of Manipulated Goal Conflict on Affect, Motivation, and Helping Behavior in Chronic Pain Couples.


Although support provision by a partner is an important resource for individuals with chronic pain (ICPs), it poses a challenge for partners because it competes with other important personal goals of partners. The current study examined the impact of experimentally induced goal conflict in partners on their motives for helping, quality of provided help, and on partners' and ICPs' affect. Sixty-eight couples, with at least one person having chronic pain, performed two series of household activities, with partners either asked to be simply available for help (i.e., control condition) or to additionally work on a puzzle task (i.e., goal conflict condition). Couples reported on interpersonal (e.g., helping motives) and intrapersonal (e.g., affect) outcomes. In addition, quality of partners' helping behavior and ICPs' pain behavior were videotaped and coded afterwards. In the goal conflict condition, ICPs were less satisfied with the received help and they experienced more pain. Also, the quality of the provided help was lower and partners experienced less positive and more negative affect. Addressing partners' goal conflict in clinical practice may help to avoid its negative impact on both ICPs and partners. Perspective: This article provides a compelling argument to include partners in chronic pain treatment by demonstrating the detrimental effects of partners' experienced conflicts in goals upon the quality of help they provide, partners' affective functioning and ICPs' pain-related outcomes.