JMIR Form Res. 2022 Jun 13;6(6):e35194. doi: 10.2196/35194.
BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is associated with an elevated risk of suicidal ideation (SI).
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to examine if the presence or the search for Meaning in Life (MiL) are associated with less SI and explore whether MiL profiles emerge in our cohort. These profiles can be described as high presence-high search, high presence-low search, low presence-low search, and low presence-high search.
METHODS: In this observational study, we recruited 70 patients who were referred to the Multidisciplinary Pain Center of the Geneva University Hospitals and who answered positively to question 9 on the Beck Depression Inventory, 2nd Edition, investigating SI. Patients who agreed to participate in the study were further investigated; they participated in a structured diagnostic interview to screen for psychiatric diagnoses. During this interview, they completed the Meaning in Life Questionnaire and the semistructured Scale for Suicide Ideation (SSI) to assess the characteristics and severity of SI.
RESULTS: There was a statistically significant correlation between the presence of MiL subscale and the SSI. These 2 scales had a negative and statistically highly significant correlation (R=-.667; P<.001). The results also showed a negative and statistically highly significant correlation between the score of the search for MiL and the SSI (R=-.456; P<.001). The results thus pointed to the presence of MiL as a potential protective factor against the severity of SI, while the search for MiL is also a possible resiliency factor, although to a lesser extent. The profile low presence-low search grouped the vast majority (47%) of the patients; in these patients, the mean SSI score was 14.36 (SD 5.86), much higher compared with that of the other subgroups.
CONCLUSIONS: This study’s results point to MiL as a concept of interest regarding devising psychotherapeutic interventions for chronic pain patients in order to reduce the suicidal risk and more accurately determine patients’ suffering.