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Social Influences on Peer Judgments about Chronic Pain and Disability.
Anastas TM, Meints SM, Gleckman AD, Hirsh AT. Social Influences on Peer Judgments about Chronic Pain and Disability. The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society. 2019 Jun 1; 20(6):698-705.
Chronic pain is a leading cause of work absenteeism and disability compensation. Previous work demonstrates that patients with chronic illness often seek advice, such as whether or not to pursue disability benefits, from peers with similar health conditions. The current study examined the extent that social factors influence patients with chronic pain ("peers") when making disability judgments and recommendations for other patients with chronic pain. Participants (N? = 71) made pain-related and disability ratings for fictional vignette patients that varied in weight (normal vs obese), fault of accident, and physical work demands. Results of repeated measures analyses of variance indicated that participants rated patients with obesity, who were not at fault, and who held a physically demanding job as experiencing more severe pain symptoms and disability and were more likely to recommend they seek disability benefits. Participants who had applied for disability benefits themselves rated patients as more disabled than participants who had not applied for disability. These data suggest that patients with chronic pain are influenced by patient and contextual factors when making pain-related and disability judgments for peers. These judgments may impact patient decision making via peer support programs and online forums. PERSPECTIVE: This study suggests that patients with chronic pain are influenced by patient weight, fault of accident, and physical work demands when making judgments about pain and disability for peers. Future studies should examine the extent such peer-to-peer recommendations influence actual disability-seeking behaviors for pain.