Master Thesis & Projects


   Kircher, J. (Thesis, Psychology, 2016). Social support as a moderator between stress and chronic pain in fibromyalgia


The etiology of fibromyalgia is unknown; thus, research on the psychosocial factors contributing to the symptomatology of fibromyalgia is an important area of study. Research indicates that perceived stress and perceived social support affect the experience of chronic pain, but the relationship between the two has been under-studied. The purpose of this study is to explore the association between perceived stress, perceived social support and chronic pain among older adults with and without fibromyalgia. Social support was tested as a moderator of the relationship between stress and pain. Results revealed that social support did not significantly moderate the relationship between stress and pain in either the fibromyalgia or control group. However, stress was found to be strongly associated with pain among people with fibromyalgia. In contrast, among those without fibromyalgia, social support was related to chronic pain but stress was not. These findings demonstrate that perceived stress and perceived social support may play an important role in the expression of chronic pain among older adults. Future research should further investigate the impact psychosocial factors have on chronic pain disorders, more specifically fibromyalgia.

   Lynch, K. (Thesis, Psychology, 2016). Examining negative mood regulation expectancies, fibromyalgia, childhood                 trauma, and depression.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain condition that affects 2% to 4% of the population. Many patients with FM report a history of depression and child abuse. Childhood abuse affects both physical and mental health in adulthood. Negative mood regulation expectancies (NMRE) are one’s belief that one can alleviate his or her negative moods (Catanzaro & Mearns, 1990). People with higher NMRE experience fewer mental and physical symptoms in adulthood following childhood maltreatment. My study investigated how NMRE, depression, childhood trauma, and FM were related. The study expected to find that more severe child abuse would be associated with lower NMR Scale scores, more depression, and more FM symptoms. NMRE was also expected to mediate the relationships of child abuse with both depression and FM symptoms. Questionnaires were completed by 164 participants with an FM diagnosis (n = 34) or a history of child abuse (n = 130). Participants were sampled from online support groups for FM and child abuse. More severe child abuse was associated with greater depression, but it was unrelated to NMRE and FM symptoms. Higher NMRE were associated with lower depression, but they had no association with FM symptoms. This study did not support past research suggesting that NMRE may influence health symptoms. Limitations include that the current study had few participants and many incomplete responses to the questionnaires. Future research should include non-self-report measures and should collect questionnaire data at multiple sessions to better understand causality among the variables.