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Self-reported interoceptive awareness in primary care patients with past or current low back pain

Authors Mehling WE, Daubenmier J, Price CJ, Acree M, Bartmess E, Stewart AL

Received 6 January 2013

Accepted for publication 27 March 2013

Published 28 May 2013 Volume 2013:6 Pages 403—418

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S42418

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Wolf E Mehling,1,2 Jennifer Daubenmier,1,3 Cynthia J Price,5 Mike Acree,1 Elizabeth Bartmess,1 Anita L Stewart4

1Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, 2Department of Family and Community Medicine, 3Department of Medicine, 4School of Nursing, Institute for Health and Aging, University of California, San Francisco, CA, 5School of Nursing, Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Background: Mind–body interactions play a major role in the prognosis of chronic pain, and mind–body therapies such as meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, and Feldenkrais presumably provide benefits for pain patients. The Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness (MAIA) scales, designed to measure key aspects of mind–body interaction, were developed and validated with individuals practicing mind–body therapies, but have never been used in pain patients.
Methods: We administered the MAIA to primary care patients with past or current low back pain and explored differences in the performance of the MAIA scales between this and the original validation sample. We compared scale means, exploratory item cluster and confirmatory factor analyses, scale–scale correlations, and internal-consistency reliability between the two samples and explored correlations with validity measures.
Results: Responses were analyzed from 435 patients, of whom 40% reported current pain. Cross-sectional comparison between the two groups showed marked differences in eight aspects of interoceptive awareness. Factor and cluster analyses generally confirmed the conceptual model with its eight dimensions in a pain population. Correlations with validity measures were in the expected direction. Internal-consistency reliability was good for six of eight MAIA scales. We provided specific suggestions for their further development.
Conclusion: Self-reported aspects of interoceptive awareness differ between primary care patients with past or current low back pain and mind–body trained individuals, suggesting further research is warranted on the question whether mind–body therapies can alter interoceptive attentional styles with pain. The MAIA may be useful in assessing changes in aspects of interoceptive awareness and in exploring the mechanism of action in trials of mind–body interventions in pain patients.

Keywords: interoception, body awareness, low back pain, questionnaire

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