Objective: A growing body of literature shows that justice-related appraisals are significant determinants of pain-related outcomes and prolonged trajectories of recovery. We conducted a systematic review of the literature assessing the relationship between perceived injustice and pain-related outcomes in individuals with musculoskeletal pain.

Design and participants: A search of published studies in English in PubMed, PsychInfo, Embase, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews from database inception through May 2019 was performed. Search terms included “perceived injustice,” “injustice appraisals,” “perceptions of injustice,” and “pain” or “injury.”

Results: Thirty-one studies met inclusion criteria. Data for a total of 5,969 patients with musculoskeletal pain were extracted. Twenty-three studies (71.9%) reported on individuals with persistent pain lasting over three months, and 17 studies (53.1%) reported on individuals with injury-related musculoskeletal pain. Significant associations were found between perceived injustice and pain intensity, disability and physical function, symptoms of depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, quality of life and well-being, and quality of life and social functioning.

Conclusions: This systematic review summarizes the current evidence for the association between perceived injustice and pain-related outcomes. There is strong evidence that perceived injustice is associated with pain intensity, disability-related variables, and mental health outcomes. Implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Keywords: Injustice Appraisals; Musculoskeletal; Pain; Pain Outcomes; Perceived Injustice.

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