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Perceptions of pain and resilience factors among male and female college students

Ashley L. Merianos, Laura A. Nabors, Keith A. King, Rebecca A. Vidourek.

Background: Young adultsí reports of their health concerns and the impact these issues may have on their health-related quality of life are significant issues nationwide. Among the college student population, health concerns related to pain are substantially increasing, and are often related to mental health problems among this particular population. A primary aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between perceptions of pain and perceived self-esteem and types of social support for male and female college-age students. Furthermore, the current study examines the relationships among type of social support, from family, friends or significant others or partners and malesí and femalesí report of pain experiences. Methods: By May 2012, a sample of 238 college students at a Midwestern university completed a survey assessing their self-esteem, social support, and physical health and pain. Results: Results indicated there were differences in malesí and femalesí perception of pain experiences. More specifically, females with higher ratings of social support from friends were related to greater number of days in which pain was experienced. In contrast, females reported increased social support from significant others were related to less pain, whereas males reported increased social support from significant others were related to more pain. Self-esteem was inversely related to number of days in pain for males and this was also a trend for females. Conclusions: The present study found that increased levels of social support and self-esteem could be buffers of pain experiences. However, the relationship among these resilience factors may be complex. Future interventions targeting increasing support among college studentsí who experience pain should be gender-specific since support needs differ among male and female college students.

Key words: college students; pain; resilience factors

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