Resilience factors may buffer cellular aging in individuals with and without chronic knee pain

Academic Article


  • © The Author(s) 2019. Telomere length, a measure of cellular aging, is inversely associated with chronic pain severity. While psychological resilience factors (e.g., optimism, acceptance, positive affect, and active coping) are associated with lower levels of clinical pain and greater physical functioning, it is unknown whether resilience may buffer against telomere shortening in individuals with chronic pain. Additionally, a broader conceptualization of resilience that includes social and biobehavioral factors may improve our understanding of the relationship between resilience, chronic pain, and health outcomes. In individuals with and without chronic knee pain, we investigated whether (1) psychological resilience would be positively associated with telomere length and if (2) a broader conceptualization of resilience including social and biobehavioral factors would strengthen the association. Seventy-nine adults, 45 to 85 years of age, with and without knee pain completed demographic, health, clinical pain, psychological, social, and biobehavioral questionnaires. Resilience levels were determined by summing the total number of measures indicating resilience based on published clinical ranges and norms. Blood samples were collected, and telomere length was determined. In regression analyses controlling for sex, race, age, and characteristic pain intensity, greater psychological resilience and psychosocial/biobehavioral resilience were associated with longer telomeres (p =.0295 and p =.0116, respectively). When compared, psychosocial/biobehavioral resilience was significantly more predictive of telomere length than psychological resilience (p <.0001). Findings are promising and encourage further investigations to enhance understanding of the biological interface of psychosocial and biobehavioral resilience factors in individuals with musculoskeletal chronic pain conditions.
  • Published In

  • Molecular Pain  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Johnson AJ; Terry E; Bartley EJ; Garvan C; Cruz-Almeida Y; Goodin B; Glover TL; Staud R; Bradley LA; Fillingim RB
  • Volume

  • 15