Introduction Previous qualitative and cross-sectional research has identified a strong sense of mental defeat in people with chronic pain who also experience the greatest levels of distress and disability. This study will adopt a longitudinal experience sampling design to examine the within-person link between the sense of mental defeat and distress and disability associated with chronic pain.
Methods and analysis We aim to recruit 198 participants (aged 18–65 years) with chronic pain, to complete two waves of experience sampling over 1 week, 6 months apart (time 1 and time 2). During each wave of experience sampling, the participants are asked to complete three short online surveys per day, to provide in-the-moment ratings of mental defeat, pain, medication usage, physical and social activity, stress, mood, self-compassion, and attention using visual analogue scales. Sleep and physical activity will be measured using a daily diary as well as with wrist actigraphy worn continuously by participants throughout each wave. Linear mixed models and Gaussian graphical models will be fit to the data to: (1) examine the within-person, day-to-day association of mental defeat with outcomes (ie, pain, physical/social activity, medication use and sleep), (2) examine the dynamic temporal and contemporaneous networks of mental defeat with all outcomes and the hypothesised mechanisms of outcomes (ie, perceived stress, mood, attention and self-compassion).
Ethics and dissemination The current protocol has been approved by the Health Research Authority and West Midlands—Solihull Research Ethics Committee (Reference Number: 17/WM0053). The study is being conducted in adherence with the Declaration of Helsinki, Warwick Standard Operating Procedures and applicable UK legislation.