The Effect of Chronic Pain on Interruption and Resumption of Work Goals

Summary: Chronic pain is known to result in work interruptions, but how does such pain affect resumption of work? Researchers followed 131 individuals reporting chronic pain via automated phone calls throughout the day, asking about their pain, pain-related work interruptions, and associated frustration and disappointment, as well as work resumption. Individuals experiencing greater-than-normal disappointment and frustration with pain-related work interruptions during the day were more likely to return to work in the evening. Work resumption was more common for individuals with task-oriented goals, compared to participants with interpersonal-oriented goals. This may be because clients or co-workers are unavailable if work continued in the evening. Additionally, those with full-time employment were less likely than part-time workers to resume work in the evenings after pain-related interruption, potentially because part-time employees may not work consecutive days and are more compelled to complete work within a single workday. These findings identify patterns in pain-related work interruption and resumption that may lead to coordinated approaches to pain and work management.

Citation: Okun M, Karoly P, Mun CJ, Kim H. Pain-Contingent Interruption and Resumption of Work Goals: A Within-Day Diary Analysis. J Pain. 2015 Jan; 17(1):65-75. PMID: 26460172