Perceived Stigma and Depressed Mood in Undergraduate Students with Chronic Pain

Open Access
Bowers, Autumn M
Area of Honors:
Biobehavioral Health
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Jennifer Elise Graham Engeland, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lori Anne Francis, Honors Advisor
  • chronic pain
  • depressed mood
  • perceived stigma
  • biobehavioral health
A considerable body of literature suggests that the stigma associated with a variety of conditions, such as HIV/AIDS and psoriasis, uniquely contributes to adverse health outcomes within these populations. Although efforts to examine the prevalence of and consequences from stigma in chronic pain populations has been extremely limited, the subjective and sometimes invisible nature of chronic pain may predispose this population to stigmatizing interactions. The main goals of the present study were to examine how key psychosocial factors are associated with stigma in a population of undergraduates with chronic pain and to investigate stigma’s association with depressed mood over and above pain severity and demographic factors. As part of a larger research project, participants completed a variety of well-validated questionnaires. A principle component factor analysis was then performed to detect the underlying three-factor structure of the Chronic Pain Perceived Stigma Scale, which was recently developed. The Chronic Pain Perceived Stigma Scale was positively associated with depressed mood, perceived stress, pain interference, pain severity, trait anxiety, and socioeconomic status (ps < .05). Perceived stigma accounted for 16.6% of the variance observed in the sample’s depressed mood scores, even after controlling for demographics and pain severity (p < .01). Further research efforts are thus needed to not only better understand the effect of perceived stigma on additional health outcomes, but to also design and implement prevention efforts that will eliminate stigmatizing interactions from the lives of those individuals with chronic pain.