An exploration of attributions, just world beliefs and adjustment in adult pain sufferers
The present study examined the nature of and relationship between attributions, just world beliefs (JWB) and adjustment in a sample of 62 community pain sufferers. This was exploratory because it accounted for shortcomings of these concepts, meaning they have not been investigated like this in pain. Specifically, it accounted for the scarcity of research distinguishing between cause, responsibility and blame; allowing the self-definition of responsibility, blame and adjustment; examining changes in attributions and adjustment, and considering just world beliefs. The importance of investigating these issues in pain was detailed. The research was conducted in two phases. The first, brief phase piloted a measure to account for these shortcomings. The second phase used the piloted measure to investigate the shortcomings in a series of five aims. Descriptive analyses indicated that most participants made causal attributions for their pain, with around half attributing responsibility and blame. Although similar in the types of attributions made, cause was distinguished from responsibility and blame, which were indistinguishable from each other. Attributions did not change. Additionally, JWB were weakly correlated with pain intensity, and analyses of variance techniques found JWB to interact with pain duration, such that those with 1 month-2.5 years' duration had stronger JWB than those in the 3-9 years' duration. JWB did not interact with attributions or adjustment, but chi-square analyses found attributions interacted with adjustment, such that attributions to the self were adaptive, while attributions to others resulted in poor adjustment to pain. Stepwise multiple regression analyses suggested that these latter attributions predicted pain intensity, as did pain treatments. Additionally, individual differences in attributions, adjustment and pain intensity emerged in chi-square analyses, although none were found on JWB. Full interpretations were made of these findings, and their implications for future research discussed.