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Papers of the Week

2022 May 14

J Behav Med

Exploring pain experience and anxiety sensitivity among Latinx adults in a federally qualified health center.


Zvolensky MJ, Smit T, Rogers AH, Matoska C, Garey L, Viana AG, Lemaire C, Nizio P, Garza M, Mayorga NA, Ochoa-Perez M, Ditre J
J Behav Med. 2022 May 14.
PMID: 35567730.


The Latinx population is the largest minority group in the United States (U.S.) and is expected to continue to grow through at least 2050. Although there is growing recognition of the importance of pain among Latinx individuals, few studies have examined individualized psychological processes governing pain severity and disability in Latinx populations. One psychological factor that has shown promise in relation to pain experience specifically and clinical conditions more generally is anxiety sensitivity. The present investigation sought to (1) characterize the severity of pain among an unselected sample of adult Latinx individuals attending a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC); (2) evaluate the severity of anxiety sensitivity as a function of pain severity; and (3) test the potential explanatory relevance of anxiety sensitivity as an individual difference factor for pain intensity, pain disability, psychological inflexibility for emotional distress, and global life impairment. Participants included 406 adult Spanish-speaking Latinx persons (87.2% female; M = 40.26 years, SD = 11.20, and 98.3% used Spanish as their first language) who attended an FQHC in Houston, Texas. Analyses revealed that 62.6% of the sample had at least some pain, and 21.9% of the same had high intensity, moderate interference, or severe interference chronic pain. Further, results provided evidence for anxiety sensitivity as a function of pain grade, such that individuals with grade 2 (high-intensity pain), grade 3 (moderate pain interference), and grade 4 (severe pain interference) chronic pain reported significantly higher levels of anxiety sensitivity than those with grade 0 pain (no chronic pain). Additionally, after controlling for age, gender, marital status, years of education, years living in the U.S., and generalized anxiety, anxiety sensitivity significantly accounted for significant variance in pain intensity, inflexibility in relation to emotional distress, and life impairment. Overall, the current study builds upon what is currently understood about anxiety sensitivity among the Latinx population and uniquely extends past work by linking individual differences in this construct to clinically relevant aspects of pain experience and life impairment among adults attending FQHC's. Additional clinical attention should be focused on anxiety sensitivity to offset pain disparities among this established health disparities group.