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Effects of coping statements on experimental pain in chronic pain patients

Authors Daniela Roditi, Michael E Robinson, Nola Litwins

Published 19 August 2009 Volume 2009:2 Pages 109—116


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Daniela Roditi, Michael E Robinson, Nola Litwins

Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA

Abstract: The present study measured the effects of catastrophizing self-statements and positive coping self-statements on cold pressor-induced pain. Participants were 58 adult chronic pain patients with current facial pain. It was hypothesized that catastrophizing would lead to a decrease in pain endurance whereas positive coping would lead to an increase in pain endurance. It was also hypothesized that catastrophizing would lead to an increase in peak pain intensity whereas positive coping would lead to a decrease in peak pain intensity. At pretest, participants submerged their nondominant hand in the cold pressor. Pain sensitivity ranges (PSR) were subsequently determined by calculating the difference between tolerance and threshold times. Ratings of peak pain intensity were measured using a pressure sensitive bladder/transducer. Participants underwent random assignment to either a catastrophizing group or a positive coping self-statement group. ANCOVA results revealed that on average, participants employing catastrophizing statements as a coping strategy experienced significantly lower PSR (M = 35.53, SD = 39.71) compared to participants employing positive coping self-statements (M = 73.70, SD = 86.14) when controlling for pretest PSR. Group assignment had no significant influence on peak pain intensity ratings. Thus, our results reveal that manipulation of coping causes changes in pain endurance.

Keywords: catastrophizing, coping, expectation, pain sensitivity

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