Psychological variables and cancer pain

Lani Zimmerman, Kristine Turner Story, Fannie Gaston-Johansson, Joanne R. Rowles

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Pain can cause both physical and psychological distress that has a negative impact on a patient's quality of life. The purpose of this descriptive study was to determine whether cancer patients (N = 60) with pain (n = 30) had higher scores of depression, anxiety, somatization, and hostility than did cancer patients without pain (n = 30). The study was conducted in a midwestern medical center hospital during a 9-month period. Psychological variables were measured using subscales of the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). Patients who reported pain completed the McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ) and Visual Analogue Scale. Significant positive correlations were found between total MPQ scores and all four subscales of the BSI (r = 0.60-0.78, p < 0.05). Patients with pain scored higher on all four subscales of the BSI, with significant differences occurring in somatization (t = 2.05, p < 0.05) and hostility (t = 1.93, p < 0.05). The findings suggest a relationship between pain intensity and psychological status. Nursing interventions aimed at reducing these factors may help to decrease the pain, in addition to then decreasing the psychological distress experienced by patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-53
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996


  • anxiety
  • cancer pain
  • depression
  • hostility
  • somatization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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