Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

School of Aging Studies

Major Professor

Tamara Baker, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Brent Small, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Karen O. Anderson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kathryn Hyer, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Susan C. McMillan, Ph.D.


Pain Severity, Elderly, Five Factor Model, Affect, Symptom Management


It is well-established that personality not only affects physical health and longevity, but also mental health and coping mechanisms. One area of limited research is the relationship between cancer pain and personality. This study examined how personality traits affect reported cancer pain severity in older patients (N = 150) receiving outpatient treatment at a comprehensive cancer center. Participants were interviewed regarding their pain severity, personality, affect, and self-efficacy for pain management. Symptom data were collected from the Brief Pain Inventory, while personality data were gathered from the Ten Item Personality Inventory and the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. Self-efficacy for pain management was collected from the Chronic Pain Self-efficacy Scale. Analyses included descriptives, Chi-square tests, t-tests, stepwise linear regressions, and moderation analyses. The mean age of the sample was 65.38 ± 7.72 years. Seventy-nine percent of the sample was White. Analyses indicated that the average pain was 4.15 ± 2.01 (0-10 scale; with 10 being worst pain), with the sample recording means of 6.53 ± 2.57 and 2.45 ± 2.15 on worst and least pain, respectively. Regression analyses showed extraversion (â = -0.21, p < .01) and openness to experience (â = 0.18, p < .05) to be significant predictors of higher current and average pain severity, respectively. Agreeableness (â = 0.18, p < .05) was found to be a significant predictor of higher self-efficacy for pain management. Conscientiousness and extraversion were significant moderators in the relationship between self-efficacy for pain management and worst pain severity. These findings indicate that different personality types and personal affect may influence reports of pain severity. More empirical research is needed to understand the impact of personality and its relationship with pain severity and self-efficacy for pain management in more diverse and marginalized cancer populations across the age continuum. Finally, the results may be used to design more individualized interventions on pain management, depending on personality type, an application that has never been done in older adults with cancer.