Chronic pain (CP), a leading cause of disability, is associated with addiction, physical and psychosocial impairment and tremendous financial burden. Childhood experiences contribute to the genesis of different attachment styles. Attachment theory offers a useful framework for the conceptualization of CP, with different attachment styles impacting the experience and clinical manifestations of CP. This systematic review aims to evaluate the relationship between attachment styles and CP, to investigate which attachment styles pose the greatest risk for CP, to examine how CP is expressed in the context of different attachment styles, and to gain insight regarding the treatment approach to CP. This systematic review utilized a quantitative approach and included 29 studies relating to the relationship between attachment styles and CP. The studies yielded results indicating that an insecure attachment style is more prevalent among those suffering from CP when compared with healthy subjects. Attachment insecurity was noted to be a predisposing factor with respect to various dimensions of the CP experience. A secure attachment style served as a protective factor vis-a-vis the genesis and clinical manifestations of CP. The studies highlighted the necessity of an attachment-based, customized treatment approach for CP patients with varying attachment styles. Future research should inform healthcare providers about vulnerable populations, early intervention strategies and efficacious treatment modalities.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Chronic pain; Attachment behavior; Attachment disorder

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

LaTonya Wood

Included in

Psychology Commons