Self-conscious emotions in patients suffering from chronic musculoskeletal pain: a brief report

Julie Turner-Cobb, Mariana Michalaki, Mike Osborn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (SciVal)
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Objective: The role of self-conscious emotions (SCEs) including shame, guilt, humiliation and embarrassment are of increasing interest within health. Yet, little is known about SCEs in the experience of chronic pain. This study explored prevalence and experience of SCEs in chronic pain patients compared to controls and assessed the relationship between SCEs and disability in pain patients.

Design and measures: Questionnaire assessment comparing musculoskeletal pain patients (n = 64) and pain-free control participants (n = 63). Pain was assessed using the McGill Pain Questionnaire; disability, using the Roland–Morris Disability Questionnaire; and six SCEs derived from three measures (i) Test of Self-Conscious Affect-3 yielding subscales of shame, guilt, externalisation and detachment (ii) The Brief Fear of Negative Evaluation Scale and (iii) The Pain Self-Perception Scale assessing mental defeat.

Results: Significantly greater levels of shame, guilt, fear of negative evaluation and mental defeat were observed in chronic pain patients compared to controls. In the pain group, SCE variables significantly predicted affective pain intensity; only mental defeat was significantly related to disability.

Conclusion: Findings highlight the prevalence of negative SCEs and their importance in assessment and management of chronic pain. The role of mood in this relationship is yet to be explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-501
Number of pages7
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number4
Early online date2 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • chronic pain
  • guilt
  • self-conscious emotions
  • shame


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