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J Clin Diagn Res. 2012 Dec;6(10):1648-52. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2012/4800.2647. Epub 2012 Sep 8.

The role of mental distraction on the pain response in healthy young Indian adults.

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  • 1Professor, Department of Physiology , TMMC & RC, Moradabad, (U.P.), India.



The pain sensitivity of a person depends on the type of pain, his/her genetics, racial and cultural factors. Its dependence on the gender is debatable. The significance of the psychological or the behavioural intervention in pain management is gaining importance, along with a reduction in the doses of the analgesics. We wished to investigate (a) whether Indian subjects showed a pain response which was similar to that which was reported for American subjects, (b) whether sex-related differences in the pain response were present in the Indian population, and (c) which method of mental distraction (from a choice of the presence of a male/female attendant, preferred music, and solving simple arithmetic problems) was best suited for the Indian subjects.


The cold pressor task was performed on a group of 80 subjects (38 females who were in the proliferative or the secretory phase of the menstrual cycle) under the conditions which have been mentioned above, as well as in the absence of mental distractants.


The female subjects endured pain for a longer duration while they listened to the music of their choice; the male subjects endured pain longer while they were in conversation with the female attendants.


A comparison with the reported data showed the Indian males to be more pain-sensitive than the American males. Sex related differences in the pain sensitivity were absent in the Northern Indian subjects. Preferred music was the most effective mental distractant for females, while a conversation with the female attendants was the most effective distractant for the male subjects.


Cold pressor task; Mental distraction; Pain response; Pain sensitivity

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