College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-22-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Susan Tran, PhD

Second Advisor

Joanna Busceni, PhD

Third Advisor

Steven Miller, PhD


Emerging adulthood is often overlooked as a developmental time period critical to shaping future health outcomes. Recurrent pain is a commonly experienced health concern within this age group, particularly headaches and low back pain, and early experiences of recurrent pain are related to subsequent chronic pain and disability. Furthermore, adults from marginalized populations report more frequent and severe recurrent pain. Many studies have demonstrated the therapeutic effect of physical activity on pain relief; however, others have demonstrated that physical activity can also exacerbate pain symptoms. Therefore, the current study aimed to 1) assess a bidirectional relationship between reported pain and engagement in physical activity among an emerging adult sample (N = 265) and 2) determine whether sociodemographic factors moderate this relationship. Using longitudinal daily reported pain and ActiGraph monitor data collected over two-weeks, a novel dynamic structural equation modeling approach was employed. Results indicated no significant cross-lagged relationships between pain and physical activity, and no significant moderation effects. These findings suggest that a bidirectional relationship does not exist among a diverse college sample of emerging adults even after considering sociodemographic moderators. Excellent retention and few missing data suggest that using accelerometers and daily diaries are feasible methods to collect data in this population. Sample considerations and future analytical approaches are discussed.

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons