Optimism moderates the influence of pain catastrophizing on shoulder pain outcome: A longitudinal analysis

Rogelio A. Coronado, Corey B. Simon, Trevor A. Lentz, Charles W. Gay, Lauren N. Mackie, Steven Z. George

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


STUDY DESIGN: Secondary analysis of prospectively collected data. BACKGROUND: An abundance of evidence has highlighted the influence of pain catastrophizing and fear avoidance on clinical outcomes. Less is known about the interaction of positive psychological resources with these pain- associated distress factors. OBJECTIVE: To assess whether optimism moderates the influence of pain catastrophizing and fear avoidance on 3-month clinical outcomes in patients with shoulder pain. METHODS: Data from 63 individuals with shoulder pain (mean ± SD age, 38.8 ± 14.9 years; 30 female) were examined. Demographic, psychological, and clinical characteristics were obtained at baseline. Validated measures were used to assess optimism (Life Orientation Test-Revised), pain catastrophizing (Pain Catastrophizing Scale), fear avoidance (Fear- Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire physical activity subscale), shoulder pain intensity (Brief Pain Inventory), and shoulder function (Pennsylvania Shoulder Score function subscale). Shoulder pain and function were reassessed at 3 months. Regression models assessed the influence of (1) pain catastrophizing and optimism and (2) fear avoidance and optimism. The final multivariable models controlled for factors of age, sex, education, and baseline scores, and included 3-month pain intensity and function as separate dependent variables. T tRESULTS: Shoulder pain (mean difference, -1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -2.1, -1.2) and function (mean difference, 2.4; 95% CI: 0.3, 4.4) improved over 3 months. In multivariable analyses, there was an interaction between pain catastrophizing and optimism (β = 0.19; 95% CI: 0.02, 0.35) for predicting 3-month shoulder function (F = 16.8, R2 = 0.69, P<001), but not pain (P = .213). Further examination of the interaction with the Johnson-Neyman technique showed that higher levels of optimism lessened the influence of pain catastrophizing on function. There was no evidence of significant moderation of fear-avoidance beliefs for 3-month shoulder pain (P = .090) or function (P = .092). T tCONCLUSION: Optimism decreased the negative influence of pain catastrophizing on shoulder function, but not pain intensity. Optimism did not alter the influence of fear-avoidance beliefs on these outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-30
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017



  • Catastrophization
  • Optimism
  • Psychology
  • Regression analysis
  • Shoulder pain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Cite this