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J Pain. 2002 Aug;3(4):320-9.

Anxiety sensitivity, cognitive biases, and the experience of pain.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths College, Universityof London, New Cross, United Kingdom. e.keogh@gold.ac.uk

Abstract

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the tendency to be fearful of anxiety-related sensations, known as anxiety sensitivity, is closely associated with pain experiences. The aim of the current study was to determine the mechanisms by which such a relationship exists. Selective attentional and interpretative biases for negative material were compared as potential mediators of the anxiety sensitivity-pain relationship. With the cold pressor task, the current study found that high anxiety sensitivity participants exhibited a greater interpretative bias and reported more negative pain experiences than those low in anxiety sensitivity. A negative interpretative bias was also related to higher affective pain experiences. Most important, however, was that the tendency to misinterpret innocuous bodily sensations related to panic was found to mediate the association between anxiety sensitivity and affective pain experiences. These findings not only confirm that anxiety sensitivity plays an important role in the perception of experimental pain but also identify a potential cognitive mechanism by which this relationship exists.

PMID:
14622756
[PubMed]

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