Tyler Chui ’22, Gilharia Delva ’21, Robert Hughes ’21, Aliyah Jones ’22, Angela Tassi ’21, and Kennedy Tran ‘22
Majors: Psychology (Tyler), Health Sciences (Gilharia and Angela), Biology and Health Sciences (Robert and Kennedy), and Psychology and Social Work (Aliyah)
Minors: Business Management (Tyler), Psychology (Gilharia and Robert), Biology and Psychology(Angela), and Chemistry and Psychology (Kennedy)
Affiliations: Honors College (Tyler, Aliyah, and Angela) and Veteran (Robert)
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jamie Dunaev, Assistant Teaching Professor of Psychology
Chronic pain is a condition in which pain persists beyond the onset of the injury or illness that caused it and is often debilitating enough to limit daily activities. Pain in and of itself presents physical challenges but it also leaves individuals at risk of opioid dependence, impaired interpersonal relationships, psychological disorders, and reduced quality of life. Additionally, people may hold inaccurate assumptions about the experiences of individuals with chronic pain. These inaccurate assumptions may result in individuals with chronic pain being negatively stereotyped (e.g., lazy, drug- seeking, liars) and discriminated against. Individuals with chronic pain may internalize these negative stereotypes. This internalized stigma can lead to a reduced quality of life. Recent research has also highlighted the importance of understanding how chronic pain might impact body image. Individuals with chronic pain may experience body dissatisfaction due to functional limitations and appearance alterations introduced by the chronic pain condition. Yet to be tested, however, is how experiences of internalized chronic pain stigma might impact body satisfaction and appreciation. In this study, how body image relates to mental and physical well-being in individuals with chronic pain was examined, and how experiences and internalization of chronic pain stigma impact body image and mental and physical well-being were analyzed. This study was pre-registered, and the data used for these analyses were part of a larger study on chronic illness, body image, and health. This study found that internalized stigma and experiences of stigma were negatively correlated with body functionality, body appreciation, and body area satisfaction as well as the physical and emotional well-being variables. Additionally, body appreciation and appearance evaluation were both positively correlated with physical functioning, emotional well-being, and general health. Furthermore, mediation analyses confirmed that internalized stigma mediated the association between experiences of stigma and body appreciation, body areas of satisfaction, self-esteem, physical functioning, emotional well-being, and general health. Internalized stigma however did not mediate the association between experiences of stigma and body functionality.