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"A Systematic Review of the relationship be-tween Alexithymia, Childhood Maltreatment and Pain-Related Somatic Symptom Disorder Adults"  by Sarah Lawson and Jonathan Egan




Background: Chronic pain has been broadly labelled as derived from medically unexplained or psychological factors. However, recent research has evidenced psycho-social factors that may precipitate chronic pain. These factors support a neuroendocrine influence on these dis-orders. Childhood maltreatment has been identified as a precipitating social factor associated with many adult physical health disorders, including chronic pain. At the same time, Alexithy-mia has also been explored as a psychological risk factor. This systematic review aimed to investigate the evidence supporting psycho-social factors associated with pain disorders and the nature of this relationship.


Method: Studies were identified using a range of online databases, including; Ebsco, Ovid and Embase. Studies were systematically screened for adherence to inclusion and exclusion criteria. Papers were included with participants identified as having a pain disorder, childhood maltreatment, and difficulties related to Alexithymia. A narrative synthesis was used to collate data.


Findings: The screening procedure resulted in ten research papers being identified for review. The four studies examined various pain disorders, including IBS, fibromyalgia and chronic pain. Synthesis of findings indicated significantly greater alexithymia symptomatology and higher rates of childhood maltreatment among people with pain disorders. A significant corre-lation was suggested between childhood maltreatment and Alexithymia and pain and Alexithy-mia. Mediation analysis within these studies showed mixed findings.


Conclusion:  A systematic review of the literature indicated that Alexithymia is more preva-lent in people with pain disorder who have a history of childhood maltreatment. A significant relationship between Alexithymia, childhood maltreatment and Pain disorders was suggested. Further research is needed to understand the nature of this relationship better.

"Alexithymia, Childhood Maltreatment & Pain-Related Somatic (...)" Vol. 4 I1

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