Journal article

Coping with painful sex : Development and initial validation of the CHAMP Sexual Pain Coping Scale


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Publication Details

Subtitle: Development and initial validation of the CHAMP Sexual Pain Coping Scale

Author list: Thomtén, Johanna

Publication year: 2015

Start page: 74

End page: 80

Number of pages: 7

ISSN: 1877-8860



Background and purpose: Recurrent vulvar pain is a common and debilitating condition which has received remarkably little attention in pain research. For instance, little is known about how these women cope with sexual activities, and there are no structured assessment tools. The purpose of this study was to explore coping strategies in this group, with a view to develop a measure to assess how women with vulvar pain cope with sexual activities. Methods: The current study is based on a subsample from a longitudinal study about vulvar pain in a student sample consisting of women between 18 and 35 years old (N= 964). Only data from the ones reporting recurrent vulvar pain during the last six months (N= 289) were used in the analyses. First, the CHAMP Sexual Pain Coping Scale (CSPCS) was created, with the aim of assessing how women with vulvar pain cope with sexual activities. The scale was inspired by previous research on women with vulvar pain as well as well-known coping strategies in other pain populations. Second, the psychometric properties of the scale were explored by analyzing the factor structure and internal reliability. Third, validity features were examined in terms of criterion validity and construct validity. Results: The analyses supported a three-factor solution, embracing the strategies endurance, avoidance and alternative coping. The internal reliability of the subscales turned out to be good, and the criterion validity was supported for all three subscales. The construct validity was clearly supported for the endurance and the avoidance subscales, but not for the alternative coping subscale. Conclusions: The findings support the CSPCS as an instrument for assessing how women with vulvar pain cope with sexual activities. The strategies endurance, avoidance and alternative coping correspond with findings from earlier research. Endurance reflects a tendency to engage in and continue with sexual activities despite pain, while attempting to minimize or suppress thoughts of pain. Avoidance, on the other hand, involves efforts to stay away from sexual activities, in particular vaginal penetration, because of fear of pain. Alternative coping refers to endeavours to find alternative sexual activities that do not necessarily involve vaginal penetration. Even though this first study indicates that the CSPCS may be psychometrically sound, more studies are needed to confirm the psychometric properties and clinical application of this instrument. In particular, the construct validity of the alternative coping subscale needs to be further evaluated. Implications: A valid instrument for assessing strategies for coping with sexual activities in this population has important clinical implications, since it provides a method that may enhance assessment procedures, be used in research, and stimulate the development of treatment. © 2015 Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain.


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