What is the stress and coping model?
Initially presented by Lazarus, the stress and coping model explains a possible network of relationships between psychological processes and pain. The basis of this model is the belief that coping starts with appraisals of a stressful situation. In chronic pain, appraisal involves characterizing the threats that the pain poses and identifying coping strategies that address the threats. These appraisals reflect the person’s beliefs about their condition. These beliefs can be associated with positive or negative coping. The belief that one can control one’s own pain is associated with better adaptation to pain than belief that one cannot control one’s own pain. The belief that one can recover from pain is also positively associated with coping ability.
Patients often have intense emotional reactions to cognitive appraisal, and in turn cognition can influence these emotions. Most of these emotional reactions can be characterized as anxiety, depression, or anger. These emotions may lead to maladaptive coping strategies, which may lead to increased and/or prolonged pain. Therefore, many treatment strategies have focused on interrupting this self-perpetuating cycle.