DNP Scholarly Projects


One in four children in the United States will experience abuse or neglect before the age of 18-years-old. Adverse childhood experiences increase the risk for chronic pain disorders and maladaptive coping strategies that can intensify patients’ experience of pain and disrupt or prolong treatment. Current research encourages a biopsychosocial approach to understanding and treating chronic pain, one that acknowledges the influence of childhood trauma and works to restore health by treating pain of the body, mind, and spirit. This retrospective study examined self-reported measures in a convenience sample of 162 individuals seeking treatment for chronic pain at an integrative care center. The purpose was to compare the prevalence and magnitude of adverse childhood experiences in this chronic pain population to the general population and to explore the physical and psychological health-related quality of life, specifically pain interference and anxiety, of the sample. The results showed that patients seeking treatment for chronic pain were more likely to report four or more adverse childhood experiences than the general population. Within the sample, patients with a history of childhood trauma had higher baseline anxiety levels at intake than individuals who had no history of childhood trauma. These findings support the need for integrative approaches to chronic pain including the adoption of trauma-informed care as a beneficial model for individualized, collaborative, patient-centered treatment for intractable chronic pain disorders.



First Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Morse

Scholarly Project Team Member

Dr. David Philippi

Scholarly Project Team Member

Kathryn Hansen

Scholarly Project Team Member

Dr. Sabrina Sullenberger


Nursing, School of


Health Sciences & Nursing, Gordon E. Inman College of

Document Type

Scholarly Project


Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP)

Degree Level


Degree Grantor

Belmont University


adverse childhood experiences, child abuse and neglect, chronic pain, biopsychosocial model, pain interference, anxiety, integrative care, health-related quality of life