How do shame and social support impact depressive symptoms for people living with chronic pain?
Wednesday, April 21,
12 Noon – 1 pm
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Approximately one in five adult Canadians lives with chronic pain. Sixty percent of those with chronic pain also experience depression. Depressive symptoms related to pain increase with experiences of social invalidation, such as discounting the legitimacy of one’s pain, yet little is known about the affective mechanisms that link invalidation to harmful mental health outcomes. This study is the first to investigate shame as an affective pathway through which social invalidation can lead to depressive symptoms in the context of chronic pain. It also examines whether social support can protect against these harmful effects. As the first study carried out in partnership with The Bill Nelems Pain and Research Centre (BNPRC), the largest pain clinic in the BC Interior, this project involved developing and implementing the clinic’s research infrastructure, which can be used for future studies with pain populations in the Okanagan. By exploring how patients with pain seek and access formal and informal social support and what kinds of support they find most and least helpful (e.g., online forums, peer support groups), this work highlights peers with pain as an important but understudied resource of support to mitigate feelings of shame. Results will help to identify whether shame poses a promising treatment target for individuals with pain and inform psychotherapeutic and support group services within the network of BC community pain clinics associated with BNPRC.
Alanna Coady is currently completing her MA in Clinical Psychology at UBC Okanagan. Her research focuses on moral emotions as affective determinants of health, linking social relationships to mental and physical health outcomes. She is interested in research that can be translated into effective treatment services for those coping with chronic illness. Her work is supported by SSHRC and the Institute for Community Engaged Research.