Date of Award

Winter 12-7-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Patricia C Clark

Second Advisor

Margaret F. Moloney

Third Advisor

Jane Leserman


Background: Chronic pelvic pain (CPP) in women causes significant disability and distress. Like other chronic pain conditions, psychosocial variables likely play as key a role in the development and maintenance of CPP as physiological ones. The purposes of this study were to use the Biopsychosocial model to determine the predictors of pain and quality of life (QOL) and to specifically examine to effect of baseline catastrophizing on 12-month pain and QOL.

Methods: Secondary analysis of baseline and 12-month data collected from women presenting for CPP treatment (n = 673) at a tertiary referral center was performed. Questionnaires assessed medical symptoms, physical and mental health, abuse, trauma, catastrophizing and the main outcome measures of pain reports (McGill Pain Questionnaire) and QOL scores (adapted version of the Irritable Bowel Syndrome QOL Questionnaire).

Results: Of the 673 enrolled, 401 completed baseline questionnaires. These women were predominantly middle aged (M = 35.68, SD = 9.87), married (66%), Caucasian (78%), and educated (M = 14.83, SD = 2.55). Two hundred seventy-two women completed questionnaires at baseline and 12 months and were similar in most characteristics but reported fewer incidents of trauma and abuse, improved physical health and fewer medical symptoms. Women experienced a significant reduction in pain (t (261) = 11.23, p < .001) and improved QOL (t (257) = 6.78, p< .001). Baseline catastrophizing was a predictor of baseline pain (R2 = .42, pβ = .46, p < .001) and baseline QOL (R2 = .79, p< .001; β = .71 p < .001) with similar results at 12-month follow-up. While baseline catastrophizing contributed only 3% of the variance it remained a significant predictor of 12-month pain (R2 = .39, p < .001; β = .18, p = .003). Unexpectedly, abuse and trauma histories were not significant predictors of pain or QOL.

Conclusions: These findings contribute to the existing body of literature by confirming the complex nature of CPP and suggest that psychological processes such as catastrophizing play a vital role in CPP. Future research in CPP will benefit from the exploration of the contribution of psychological processes to CPP and the application of research from other pain conditions to gynecologic pain disorders.