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Attentional Bias Toward Cupping Therapy Marks: An Eye-Tracking Study

Authors Hong M, Lee IS, Choi DH, Chae Y

Received 5 March 2020

Accepted for publication 5 May 2020

Published 18 May 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 1041—1047


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Robert B. Raffa

Minyoung Hong,* In-Seon Lee,* Dha-Hyun Choi, Younbyoung Chae

Acupuncture & Meridian Science Research Center, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Younbyoung Chae Email

Objective: Despite the many medical benefits, cupping therapy can be difficult for some patients due to unpleasant marks on the skin. As patients are afraid of the potential painful sensation from cupping therapy, the skin reactions might produce vigilance for treatment as pain-related information. We investigated whether individuals show negative emotions and attentional bias toward pain-related residual marks from cupping therapy on the body using an eye-tracking method.
Methods: Fifty pain-free volunteers were presented with four different kinds of visual stimulation, such as the back or face region and with or without cupping marks on the skin. A cupping and a control image were presented on one screen with one image on the left side of the screen and the other on the right (locations of the images were counterbalanced across participants). The eye movements of the participants were measured while they viewed the pictures. They completed the Empathy Quotient questionnaire before the experiment and evaluated the unpleasantness level to each image during the task.
Results: Images of the back and face with cupping marks were rated significantly more unpleasant and showed a significant attentional bias (significantly longer percentage fixation time) than the control images (attentional bias score: Back + cupping: 48.1 ± 2.8%; Back: − 0.7 ± 3.4%; Face + cupping: 34.5 ± 2.5%; Face: − 2.2 ± 2.9%). Individuals with greater empathy exhibited significantly higher unpleasantness (r = 0.323, p < 0.05) and less attentional bias (r = − 0.279, p < 0.05) to the images with cupping marks.
Conclusion: The skin reactions caused by cupping therapy evoked negative emotional responses as well as attentional bias to the reaction sites. Our findings suggest that the emotional and attentional responses to cupping therapy might reflect potential reluctance to this therapy.

Keywords: attentional bias, cupping, emotion, empathy, eye-tracking

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