Somatic focus/awareness: Relationship to negative affect and pain in chronic pain patients

Erin M. O'Brien, James W. Atchison, Henry A. Gremillion, Lori B. Waxenberg, Michael E. Robinson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Somatic focus refers to the tendency to notice and report physical symptoms, and has been investigated in relation to chronically painful conditions. This study investigated the relationship between somatic focus, as measured by the Pennebaker Inventory of Limbic Languidness (PILL), negative affect and pain. A secondary purpose of the present study was to examine sex differences in these relationships. Participants included 280 chronic pain patients (69.6% females, 88.9% Caucasian), who completed a battery of self-report measures on somatic focus, pain, negative affect, coping, and dysfunction. Results for the overall sample revealed that the PILL shares considerable variance with measures of negative affect, particularly with the physiological components of anxiety and depression. When the results were analyzed separately for male and female patients, it was found that several components of negative affect and cognitive factors play a stronger role in predicting somatic focus among men compared to women. Additional analyses then examined whether somatic focus was predictive of male and female patients' pain reports. Results indicated that somatic focus explained a small, but unique amount of variance in female patients' pain reports, which differed from the relationship observed among male patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)104-115
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Chronic pain
  • Negative affect
  • Pennebaker inventory of limbic languidness (PILL)
  • Sex differences
  • Somatic focus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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