The Influence of Non-Malignant Chronic Pain on Decision-Making Among Undergraduate Students
AuthorCherup-Leslie, Stacey Marie
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College students engage in high rates of risky behaviors. This study sought to examine the interactive effect of chronic pain (CP) and pain awareness on risky decision-making, as well as the impact of CP on academic achievement and quality of life of college students aged 18 to 24. Participants completed measures of pain, mood, attention, and decision-making, as well as either a pain awareness prime task or control task. One-hundred college students with CP who completed all measures except for the IGT, as well as 33 students with CP who completed all measures including the IGT were matched to students without pain (NP) for data analyses. Results revealed that CP and NP students did not differ in risky decision-making, but CP students reported significantly poorer academic achievement scores than NP students. Also, CP students who reported high mood disturbance reported significantly poorer quality of life. Mood explained a significant amount of the variance in quality of life scores for CP students, while sociodemographic variables explained a significant amount of the variance in academic achievement. Post-hoc analyses revealed that, while CP and NP students differ with respect to academic achievement and quality of life, they do not differ on perceived life control or activity engagement. Results of this study reveal that college students with chronic pain may benefit from screening in order to prevent and treat mood disorders, as well as skills focused on balancing resources across life domains. Future studies are needed to replicate and extend current findings.