Borderline Personality Disorder Features and Pain: The Mediating Role of Anxiety Sensitivity among a College Student Sample
Jones, Rachel Elyse
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Chronic pain is a widespread phenomenon that results in significant burden in the United States and other industrialized countries. There is also evidence of elevated prevalence rates of personality disorders among chronic pain patients in comparison to prevalence rates of personality disorders among the general population. Further, the co-occurrence of chronic pain and personality disorders has been associated with a variety of negative outcomes, such as increased functional disability and health care utilization. Recent findings have highlighted substantial rates of borderline personality disorder, in particular, among individuals experiencing chronic pain. Although it is clear that borderline personality disorder and chronic pain are associated, there is a lack of research regarding the particular relation between these two phenomena. As such, the purpose of the current study was to explore the connection between borderline personality disorder features and pain among a sample of college students. More specifically, the current study examined the role of negative affect (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, depression, trait anxiety, and anger) in explaining the borderline personality disorder-pain connection. Significant, positive associations between borderline personality disorder features and each measured pain-related variable - including pain severity, pain interference, and pain during activities - were found to be fully accounted for by indirect effects of negative affect. This suggests that the relation between borderline personality disorder features and pain can be explained by the mediating effect of negative affect, and that multiple negative affect variables, including anxiety sensitivity and depression, play a significant role in accounting for this association among the current sample. Adding to the literature, the current investigation was the first to explore the role of anxiety sensitivity, a factor that has been shown to be significantly related to chronic pain and elevated in borderline personality disorder, in the association between borderline personality disorder features and chronic pain. The current findings also lend support for future investigations of the potential clinical utility of addressing particular aspects of negative affect in individuals presenting with both borderline personality disorder features and pain complaints.