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Year : 2017  |  Volume : 31  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 59-64

Pain-relevant anxiety affects desire for pain relief, but not pain perception

1 Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore 119228, Singapore
2 University of Split School of Medicine, Soltanska 2, 21000 Split, Croatia

Correspondence Address:
Adriana Banozic
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, 119228
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijpn.ijpn_72_16

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Background: Pain context plays a significant role in the perception of pain. Despite recent interest in vicarious learning and anxiety in pain modulation, there have been no attempts to explore pain modulation by specific environmental cues. Aims: Therefore, the present study evaluated pain responses in the condition that was attributed as either anxiety relevant (AR) or anxiety irrelevant. Materials and Methods: Participants were exposed to both conditions through social observational learning. Pain perception was assessed by means of a visual analog scale ranging from 0 = no pain to 10 = maximum imaginable pain. State anxiety, empathy, expectancy, and desire for pain relief were also measured at both neutral and emotionally inducing conditions. Results: No effect of relevancy of anxiety for the pain context on any of the pain-related constructs was found. However, participants in the AR condition reported an increased desire for pain relief. Maximizing similarities between observed and experienced pain context did not enhance observational learning effects in the emotionally inducing condition regardless of its relevance, but significant changes were found in comparison to the affectively neutral group. Conclusions: These results could have potentially significant clinical implications suggesting that even though observing painful procedures does not increase pain it could affect medication usage.

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