Using the Pain Catastrophizing Scale in Clinical Research and Practice

Life Sciences, Clinical Trials,
  • Thursday, June 09, 2022

Pain catastrophizing has emerged as one of the most robust predictors of adverse pain outcomes. Pain catastrophizing has been broadly defined as an exaggerated negative mental set brought to bear during actual or anticipated pain. In this webinar, the featured speakers will talk about using the Pain Catastrophizing Scale in clinical research and practice.

Each year, the term catastrophizing appears in the abstracts of approximately 500 papers. One of the most consistent findings is that elevated scores on measures of pain catastrophizing are associated with the experience of more severe pain. A relation between pain catastrophizing and pain severity has been reported in experimental and clinical studies — in children and in adults — in response to a wide range of medical/surgical procedures, and in every pain population in which it has been studied.


More is known about the cognitive, affective, behavioural and physiological correlates/sequelae of pain catastrophizing than any other pain-related psychological construct. Pain catastrophizing has been associated with negative outcome expectancies, perseverative thinking and the use of ineffective pain coping strategies. Catastrophizing predicts longer periods of bed rest and opioid overuse following musculoskeletal injury. Cross-sectional and prospective studies have shown significant relations between pain catastrophizing and a range of emotional distress states such as anxiety, fear, anger, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Catastrophizing has been shown to be associated with several indices of aberrant pain processing such as temporal summation of pain, sensitivity to movement-evoked pain, the spreading of pain, conditioned pain modulation, inflammation and elevated salivary cortisol. In addition, research supports the heritability of pain catastrophizing further pointing to a possible biological substrate.

Pain catastrophizing has been associated with a wide range of adverse clinical outcomes such as health and mental health co-morbidities, suicidal ideation and pronounced and prolonged disability. Also, there are indications that pain catastrophizing interferes with the effectiveness of treatments for pain. High scores on pain catastrophizing have been associated with less pain reduction to analgesic medication, facet joint injection, radiofrequency neurotomy, physical therapy, multidisciplinary rehabilitation and response to surgical interventions.

In this webinar, the featured speakers will present the administration and interpretation of scores on the Pain Catastrophizing Scale. They will provide information to guide the use of Pain Catastrophizing Scale scores in treatment planning for individuals with persistent pain conditions. The webinar will also describe how risk-targeted intervention techniques might be incorporated within the structure of treatment approaches currently used to manage persistent pain and disability.

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Join this webinar to learn what is currently known about the causes and consequences of pain catastrophizing with particular emphasis on the importance of assessing pain catastrophizing in clinical trials of treatments for persistent pain conditions.


Dr. Michael Sullivan, , McGill University

Dr. Michael Sullivan, Professor of Psychology, Medicine and Neurology, McGill University

Dr. Michael Sullivan is currently the Professor of Psychology, Medicine and Neurology at McGill University. He also holds cross-appointments with the School of Physical and Occupational Therapy and is Scientific Director of the Centre for Research on Pain, Disability and Social Integration. He currently holds a Canada Research Chair in Behavioral Health.

Dr. Sullivan has made seminal contributions to the field of health psychology. His research has led to the development of assessment instruments and intervention approaches that have become gold standards worldwide for the management of pain-related psychosocial risk factors. The Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) was developed as part of this program of research. Dr. Sullivan and his team have also developed the Injustice Experiences Questionnaire (IEQ) and the Perceived Deficits Questionnaire (PDQ). In 2011, Dr. Sullivan received the Canadian Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychology as a profession.

Message Presenter
Tatiana Canard, Mapi Research Trust

Tatiana Canard, Account Manager, Mapi Research Trust

After obtaining her university degree in foreign languages in Moldova, Tatiana continued her studies and professional career in France, working in the pharmaceutical industry on the manufacturing side for almost ten years. She held different positions in the Supply Chain Department at Greek CDMO FAMAR, and later at French CDMO Delpharm Orléans. She has extensive client services experience and has also managed suppliers as a Buyer. In 2019, Tatiana obtained her master’s degree in business development and key accounts at Neoma Business School (Paris).

In February 2021, she joined the Author Collaboration Unit managed by Caroline Anfray, ACU Director. Tatiana establishes new collaborations with the authors and/or copyright holders of Clinical Outcome Assessments and assists them with the daily management of their questionnaires. She manages European, UK, Australian and Canadian accounts including the management of the scales developed by Dr. Sullivan.

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Who Should Attend?

The work in this area is transdisciplinary, with implications for researchers and clinicians from a wide range of professional disciplines involved in the study or treatment of persistent pain and disability, including:

  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Anesthesiology
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Kinesiology
  • Nursing
  • Vocational Counselling
  • Mental Health Professions

What You Will Learn

Attendees will:

  • Become familiar with recent research on the adverse impact of pain catastrophizing
  • Become familiar with the administration and interpretation of scores on measures of catastrophic thinking such as the Pain Catastrophizing Scale and the Symptom Catastrophizing Scale
  • Become familiar with techniques designed to reduce pain catastrophizing in individuals with persistent pain conditions

Xtalks Partner

Mapi Research Trust

Mapi Research Trust is a non-profit organization that promotes the use of Clinical Outcomes Assessments (COAs) in health research and practice and encourages exchanges of Patient-Centered Outcomes and COA information among academics, pharmaceutical companies, health care organizations and health authorities. With the web-based platform ePROVIDE™ that includes the databases PROQOLID™, PROLABELS™, and PROINSIGHT™, Mapi Research Trust has become the preeminent source of reliable, up-to-date and comprehensive information about COAs.

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