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Open Access Research article

Overlap of cognitive concepts in chronic widespread pain: An exploratory study

Aleid de Rooij1*, Martijn PM Steultjens2, Petra C Siemonsma34, Joke A Vollebregt5, Leo D Roorda1, Willemine Beuving5 and Joost Dekker167

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rehabilitation Research, Reade, Centre for Rehabilitation and Rheumatology (formerly Jan van Breemen Institute), Amsterdam, Netherlands

2 School of Health, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, Scotland UK

3 Department of Clinimetric Laboratory, Reade, Centre for Rehabilitation and Rheumatology (formerly Jan van Breemen Institute), Amsterdam, Netherlands

4 Expertise Centre Lifestyle, TNO, Leiden, Netherlands

5 Department of Rehabilitation, Reade, Centre for Rehabilitation and Rheumatology (formerly Jan van Breemen Institute), Amsterdam, Netherlands

6 Department of Rehabilitation Medicine and EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands

7 Department of Psychiatry, EMGO Institute, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 2011, 12:218  doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-218

Published: 5 October 2011

Abstract

Background

A wide variety of cognitive concepts have been shown to play an important role in chronic widespread pain (CWP). Although these concepts are generally considered to be distinct entities, some might in fact be highly overlapping. The objectives of this study were to (i) to establish inter-relationships between self-efficacy, cognitive coping styles, fear-avoidance cognitions and illness beliefs in patients with CWP and (ii) to explore the possibility of a reduction of these cognitions into a more limited number of domains.

Methods

Baseline measurement data of a prospective cohort study of 138 patients with CWP were used. Factor analysis was used to study the associations between 16 different cognitive concepts.

Results

Factor analysis resulted in three factors: 1) negative emotional cognitions, 2) active cognitive coping, and 3) control beliefs and expectations of chronicity.

Conclusion

Negative emotional cognitions, active cognitive coping, control beliefs and expectations of chronicity seem to constitute principal domains of cognitive processes in CWP. These findings contribute to the understanding of overlap and uniqueness of cognitive concepts in chronic widespread pain.