Newswise — CHICAGO, May 30, 2014 -- Results of an Australian study published in The Journal of Pain showed that after controlling for depression internalized stigma is negatively associated with lower levels of self-esteem and personal control of pain.

The Journal of Pain is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society,

Internalized stigma refers to the internalization or absorption of negative attitudes. It also is linked with a greater tendency to catastrophize about pain and with a reduced sense of personal control over pain. Evidence indicates that internalized stigma has negative effects on health and psychological functioning in general. Researchers from the Australian National University and the Kolling Institute of Medical Research sought to learn whether an individual’s experience, perception or anticipation of negative social reactions to their pain may become internalized.

In the study, surveys were administered to 92 adults with chronic pain to explore the presence of internal stigma and its association with a range of psychological consequences in people with chronic pain.

Results showed that nearly 40 percent of the chronic pain sample reported experiencing internalized stigma. The findings showed that internalized stigma can cause low self-esteem, impaired pain self-efficacy, a greater tendency to catastrophize about pain, and a reduced sense of personal control over pain. The authors noted their findings have important implications regarding the role of internalized stigma as an outcomes measure and as a verifiable treatment target for individuals with chronic pain.

About the American Pain Society Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering. APS was founded in 1978 with 510 charter members. From the outset, the group was conceived as a multidisciplinary organization. The Board of Directors includes physicians, nurses, psychologists, basic scientists, pharmacists, policy analysts and others. For more information on APS, visit


Register for reporter access to contact details

The Journal of Pain