Experimental manipulation of perceived control and its effect on disability

K Fisher, Marie Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Perceived control is postulated as a possible moderator of the relationship between impairment and disability. This hypothesis was experimentally investigated in patients with chronic pain attending a clinical psychology department in a hospital. Patients were randomly allocated to experimentally increased (N = 25) or decreased (N = 25) perceptions of control and the effects on disability examined. Perceived control was manipulated using sections of the normal clinical interview which enhanced beliefs in control (asking about times when control had been high) or reduced them (asking about times when control had been low). Results showed that the cognitive manipulations had been effective in modifying cognitions and had resulted in the predicted effects on disability as assessed by a lifting task. The possible emotional mediation of the cognitive manipulation is considered but cannot be reconciled by these data. The results do, however, strengthen the findings from correlational studies suggesting that the simple WHO model of disability needs to be modified to include cognitive and/or emotional moderators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-669
Number of pages13
JournalPsychology & Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996


  • perceived control
  • disability
  • chronic pain
  • experimental manipulation


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