Some reports have characterized patients with chronic pain as counterdependent, that is, having emotional suppression, idealization of relationships, strong work ethic, a caregiver role-identity, and self-reliance. However, research has been hampered because formal measures of these traits have been lacking. In this article, we describe a five-item self-report questionnaire, the Counterdependency Scale (CDS), designed to elicit each of these traits on a Likert scale.
The CDS was administered to 150 consecutive patients evaluated in an outpatient psychiatry consultation program.
CDS scores were normally distributed and had significant interitem correlations and test-retest reliability (r = 0.68). As expected, subjects with chronic pain (N = 100) had higher mean CDS scores than those without chronic pain (t = 5.6, p = .000). CDS scores were independent of demographic variables and measures of anxiety, depression, alexithymia, and somatic amplification.
These results suggest that counterdependency can be described by a distinct and measurable cluster of traits associated with chronic pain.