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Measuring Counterdependency in Patients With Chronic Pain

Gregory, Robert J. MD; Berry, Sarah L. BS

Original Articles

Objective 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.

Methods The CDS was administered to 150 consecutive patients evaluated in an outpatient psychiatry consultation program.

Results 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.

Conclusions These results suggest that counterdependency can be described by a distinct and measurable cluster of traits associated with chronic pain.

From the Outpatient Psychiatry Consultation Program, SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse, New York.

Address reprint requests to: Robert J. Gregory, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Director, Outpatient Psychiatry Consultation Program, SUNY Health Science Center, 750 East Adams St., Syracuse, NY 13210.

Received for publication July 16, 1998; revision received December 11, 1998.

Copyright © 1999 by American Psychosomatic Society
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