Optimism and Pain Interference in Aging Women

Stephanie T. Judge, Jody L. Clasey, Leslie J. Crofford, Suzanne C. Segerstrom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Pain interferes with people's daily lives and often limits the extent to which they can pursue goals and engage in activities that promote well-being. However, people vary in how much interference they experience at a given level of pain. Purpose: The present study tested how optimism affects and is affected by pain interference and goal-directed activity among older women. Methods: Every 3 months for 2 years, community-dwelling middle- and older-age women (N = 199) completed online daily diaries at home for a 7 day period, in which they reported their daily pain, pain interference, and goal-directed activity. Optimism was measured at the start and end of the study. Multilevel models tested the between- and within-person relationships among pain, optimism, and pain interference or goal-directed activity. Linear regression predicted change in optimism over 2 years from pain interference and goal-directed activity. Results: Pain best predicted pain interference and optimism best predicted goal-directed activity. There were subtle interactions between optimism and pain-predicting interference and goal-directed activity. Accumulated goal-directed activity and pain interference across the study predicted longitudinal changes in optimism, with higher activity and lower pain interference predicting increased optimism over 2 years. Conclusions: Optimism may play a protective role in disruptions caused by pain on a day-to-day basis, leading to increased goal-directed activity and possibly decreased pain interference. In turn, less interference and more goal-directed activity feed forward into increased optimism, resulting in a virtuous cycle that enhances optimism and well-being among older women.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-212
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 9 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Society of Behavioral Medicine. All rights reserved.


  • Active approach
  • Aging
  • Optimism
  • Pain
  • Pain interference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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