One thing that’s not talked about much in the chronic pain world is what’s called self-efficacy. Self efficacy (SE) is defined in this review study as “the personal confidence to carry out an activity with the aim of successfully achieving a desired outcome. SE is the central motor to developing human motivation, psychosocial well-being, and personal achievement.”
What these researchers found after looking at 27 studies around SE in relation to chronic musculoskeletal pain was:
‘Our results suggest that higher self-efficacy levels are associated with greater physical functioning, physical activity participation, health status, work status, satisfaction with the performance, efficacy beliefs, and lower levels of pain intensity, disability, disease activity, depressive symptoms, presence of tender points, fatigue, and presenteeism.’
Another research review showed that ‘after analyzing 86 studies, the findings showed SE to be a protective factor related to chronicity (impairment, psychological distress, and pain severity). The authors state: ‘SE is a robust correlate of key outcomes related to chronic pain and a potentially important risk/protective factor that has implications for subsequent functioning in affected groups.’
So self-efficacy is a really important ingredient to a successful recovery from chronic pain and chronic health symptoms. One of my goals in therapy is to help people increase their self-efficacy so they can feel more empowered and confident that they CAN and WILL heal.