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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Sep 2023 - 29 Sep 2023

Basic Science, Psychology

Human Studies, Neurobiology


2023 Sep 19

Sci Rep




Depression and anxiety mediate the relationship between illness representations and perceived distress in patients with chronic pain.


Rometsch C, Teufel M, Skoda EM, Schweda A, Cosci F, Zipfel S, Stengel A, Salewski C


Illness representations explain the individual’s perception and processing of health-related information. In a chronic condition such as persistent pain, illness representations might influence treatment adherence and outcome. This study aims to exploratively identify illness representations of patients with chronic pain and their association to mental disorders and subjective distress. 95 participants admitted to an inpatient university clinic were included. Validated instruments were used to assess illness representations (IPQ-R), mental health disorders (PHQ-D), and subjective distress (PSQ). Sociodemographic data and scores for the instruments were first inspected descriptively. Correlation, regression, and mediator analyses were conducted. Analyses indicated that the distributions of the IPQ-R range toward higher values. In regard to mental disorders (PHQ-D) and subjective distress (PSQ), we found several significant correlations with subscales of the IPQ-R. A regression analysis showed the IPQ-R subscales personal control, emotional representation and sex (males) to be significant predictors of subjective distress measured with the PSQ (F = 11.55, p < .001, adjusted R = 0.545). Depression, anxiety, and stress syndromes (PHQ-D) significantly mediated the positive association between emotional representations (IPQ-R, predictor) and subjective distress (PSQ, outcome) with a total effect of c = .005, 95% CI [.005; .129]. Illness representations play a significant role in evaluating patients’ subjective distress and mental health. It is advised to incorporate illness representations into standard protocols for psychological interventions to comprehend their influence on targeted therapeutic strategies, particularly those tailored for pain management.