The relationship between traumatization and pain: What is the role of emotion?

Carolyn J. Heckman, John S. Westefeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The role of emotion in the relationship between traumatic experiences and physical pain was examined via path modeling by using a sample of hospital outpatients (N = 138). Most of the participants reported being traumatized (77%) and experiencing chronic pain (69%). Trauma survivors and nontraumatized individuals did not differ significantly on mean symptom scale scores (i.e., depression, anxiety, anger, dissociation, somatization and pain). However, a moderate effect size was found for dissociation. There were also significant associations found between trauma levels and levels of adult symptomatology. Interestingly, sexual abuse was less highly correlated with symptomatology than other types of traumatization, such as neglect. None of the three proposed path models describing the relationship between trauma, pain, and emotion fit the data successfully. Implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-73
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Family Violence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


  • Affect
  • Chronic pain
  • Defensiveness
  • Trauma


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