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Chronic Pain, Couples, and Physical Activity

Chronic pain affects more than 50 million adults in the United States (Dahlhamer, Lucas, Zelaya, Nahin, Mackey, DeBar et al., 2018) and is estimated to cost the nation more than $560 billion dollars each year (Gaskin & Richard, 2012). Regular physical activity is widely recognized as essential for maintaining health for all individuals (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2018), but is particularly important for individuals with chronic pain (ICPs) as physical activity can prevent further deconditioning and may even improve pain outcomes (e.g., CDC, 2018). Previous literature has shown that certain categories of partner behaviors (e.g., solicitous, punishing, distracting) are associated with different health outcomes for ICPs (e.g., Cano, Leonard, & Johansen, 2006), and recently researchers have begun examining partner behaviors through the lens of Self-Determination Theory, specifically looking at the effects of autonomy support from a spouse on physical activity among ICPs (e.g., Uysal et al., 2017). Partner autonomy support has been positively associated with physical activity levels (Martire et al., 2013) and better health outcomes (Uysal et al., 2017), but no studies to date have explored what factors predict whether or not a partner will use an autonomy supportive interpersonal style (as opposed to a controlling interpersonal style) with the ICP. 

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