The current study examined the perceptions and beliefs that support networks (family and close friends) have of individuals suffering with chronic pain. The hypothesis was that gender of the participant and gender and site of pain of the individual suffering with pain would influence the perceptions and beliefs that social networks have about individuals with chronic pain, including their need for support. One hundred forty undergraduate, graduate and faculty were randomly assigned to read one of six vignettes about a hypothetical chronic pain patient. These participants completed the Profile of Mood States (POMS) as they thought the individual would, and completed a questionnaire (Perceptions of Medical Patients Questionnaire; PMPQ) designed to elicit their perceptions of the individual. Vignettes differed according to gender of the individual and the site of pain (fibromyalgia, lower back pain, or headaches). Based on the gender of the participant, there were no differences in how men and women perceived the individuals with chronic pain. There were no significant differences between the participants' perceptions of men and women in the vignettes in terms of expectation of pain as more "believable", "acceptable" or "real". There was no significant difference in the perception of either men or women patients needing more emotional support. There was no significant difference between perceptions of men and women in terms of expectation of being depressed. There was a significant difference between the perceptions of patients based on the site of pain and type of pain experienced. Implications of these finding are discussed.
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