Intensity of Chronic Low Back Pain and Activity Interference: A Daily Diary Study of the Moderating Role of Cognitive Pain Coping Strategies

Dana Vertsberger, Anat Talmon, Maisa Ziadni, Jiang Ti Kong, Beth D. Darnall, Rachel Manber, Sean Mackey, James J. Gross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Chronic low back pain (CLBP) has a significant negative impact on daily functioning, particularly for those with challenges coping adaptively with ongoing pain. However, the dynamics of pain coping in daily life remain understudied. Therefore, we examined the extent to which pain intensity interferes with daily activities, and assessed whether pain coping strategies (as assessed using daily diaries) moderated this link. METHOD: We analyzed diary data from a sample of 84 participants with CLBP who completed daily diaries for up to 30 days rating pain intensity, pain interference with daily activities, and their use of pain coping strategies, including pain rumination (i.e., repetitive thinking about the pain and its causes), reappraisal (i.e., evaluating one's pain less negatively or more positively), and distraction (i.e., diverting attention from the pain). We hypothesized that these coping strategies would moderate the associations between pain and pain interference with daily activities, although in different directions. RESULTS: Results suggest that pain rumination strengthens the association between pain intensity and pain interference both on the person and day level, while pain reappraisal and distraction weaken this association, at the day and person levels, respectively. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that those who are more preoccupied with their pain and those who are less likely to reappraise their pain have more pain interference with daily activities. These findings build on prior work on pain coping by using daily diaries and highlight two pain coping strategies that have particular relevance for reducing the impact of CLBP in daily life.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic Pain
  • Daily Diary
  • Pain Coping Strategies
  • Pain Interference

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine


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