The function of just-world beliefs in a sample of pain clinic attendees (pp. 263-271)
Authors: Joanna McParland, Christina Knussen, Michael Serpel, and Christopher Eccleston
Abstract: A growing field of investigation suggests that social justice appraisals have implications for adjustment to chronic pain conditions. One strand of research indicates that the ability to perceive justice in one’s own life and in the world can confer benefits on the experience of pain in experimental and support group environments. This study extended previous research to investigate the role of justice beliefs in a clinical environment, where adjustment to pain can be particularly problematic, in order to learn more about the circumstances under which these beliefs are more or less adaptive in the pain experience. In total 123 pain clinic attendees completed self-report measures of personal and general just-world beliefs; acceptance of pain (activity engagement/pain willingness); pain severity; disability and depression. Somewhat contrary to expectations, correlation analyses revealed that the personal but not the general just world-belief was weakly associated with lower depression scores, and both beliefs were unrelated to disability and pain intensity. In hierarchical regression analyses the general just-world belief did not interact with pain intensity and disability in their relationship with depression, but activity engagement interacted with the personal just-world belief in its relationship with pain intensity, such that the personal just-world belief was associated with less pain when activity engagement was high. Overall, although largely non-significant, the results are nonetheless informative as their inconsistency with previous research findings indicates that unidentified mediator or moderator variables may be relevant in the relationship between just-world beliefs and pain, identifying opportunities to take this work forward.