Distress tolerance and pain experience among young adults

Andrew H. Rogers, Jafar Bakhshaie, Nubia A. Mayorga, Joseph W. Ditre, Michael J. Zvolensky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Pain and pain related problems affect a significant proportion of the United States population. Past research suggests that emotional distress is associated with more severe and disabling pain experience. Yet, it is less clear how individual reactions to distress are related to pain experience. Distress tolerance, defined as the perceived ability to withstand cognitive, affective, or physical distress, is an individual difference factor that may be particularly important to understanding the experience of pain. The current study examined the association of distress tolerance with pain severity, pain disability, and frequency of pain disability in a sample of young adults (N = 1577, M age = 22.17) with mild to severe pain. Results indicated that, after controlling for gender, past 30-day opiate use, and perceived health status, lower distress tolerance was significantly associated with more severe and disabling pain. These novel empirical findings suggest distress tolerance may be a useful construct in need of further study among young adults with pain complaints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1231-1238
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology, Health and Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 26 2018


  • Distress tolerance
  • pain disability
  • pain severity
  • young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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