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, 11 (5), 594-8

Self-reported Pain Sensitivity: Lack of Correlation With Pain Threshold and Tolerance

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Self-reported Pain Sensitivity: Lack of Correlation With Pain Threshold and Tolerance

Robert R Edwards et al. Eur J Pain.

Abstract

Many recent studies and several reviews have highlighted the potential clinical applications of experimental pain testing (e.g., for predicting post-surgical pain, treatment responsiveness, etc.). However, the implementation of quantitative sensory testing of pain sensitivity on a broad scale is limited by requirements of time, equipment, and expertise, and their associated costs. One reasonable question is whether one can obtain, via self-report, a valid index of an individual's pain sensitivity and pain tolerance. We analyzed data from a large number of subjects (n=505) who had undergone standardized thermal pain testing, and found that while higher self-reported pain sensitivity was associated with higher scores on a measure of anxiety, no relationship was observed between subjects' self-report of pain sensitivity and subjects' actual pain threshold or tolerance. These findings suggest that circumventing psychophysical pain testing by assessing individuals' self-reported pain sensitivity is unlikely to be a useful strategy.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1. Association of Self-Reported Pain Sensitivity with Heat Pain Threshold and Tolerance
Note. Subjects were asked to rate their agreement with the following item: “Pain doesn’t bother me as much as it does most people”. SD= ‘Strongly Disagree’, D= Disagree, N= ‘Neither Agree nor Disagree’, A= ‘Agree’, SA= ‘Strongly Agree’. HPTH= Heat pain Threshold; HPTO= Heat Pain Tolerance Data are presented as estimated means with standard deviations
Figure 2
Figure 2. Association of Self-Reported Pain Sensitivity with Anxiety
Note. Subjects were asked to rate their agreement with the following item: “Pain doesn’t bother me as much as it does most people”. SD= ‘Strongly Disagree’, D= Disagree, N= ‘Neither Agree nor Disagree’, A= ‘Agree’, SA= ‘Strongly Agree’, POMS= Profile of Mood States. Data are presented as estimated means with standard deviations. Results of post-hoc Least Significant Difference tests are included.

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