The quality of life of individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain partly depends on their capacity to adjust their personal goals. Vignettes have been rarely used to assess this ability. Therefore, this study aimed to test the relationships between vignettes assessing different goal strategies and chronic pain adaptation (i.e., daily functioning, pain-related impairment, and psychological well-being).
The sample comprised 258 individuals with chronic musculoskeletal pain who completed a series of questionnaires and vignettes. The vignettes presented a short description of a situation in which a person with chronic pain experienced a threat to a valued domain-specific goal and had to choose a possible goal management solution (i.e., goal persistence, flexibility reengagement, and disengagement). Hierarchical regression analyses were used to predict chronic pain adaptation using the selected vignette strategies as predictors.
After controlling for age, sex, pain intensity, and the responses to the dispositional goal management scales, persistence, reengagement, and disengagement goal strategies presented in the case scenarios predicted daily functioning (p < .001). Persistence, flexibility, disengagement (p < .001), and reengagement (p < .05) predicted pain-related impairment. Persistence, disengagement (p < .001), and flexibility (p < .05) predicted psychological well-being scores.
The use of vignettes could be useful to assess goal adjustment because this methodology enables respondents to provide more context-specific responses. The results of this approach could be used to improve clinical practice aimed at helping people with chronic musculoskeletal pain to better cope with this health condition.