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J Pain Symptom Manage. 1993 May;8(4):205-14.

Self-control expectancy and postsurgical pain: relationships to previous pain, behavior in past pain, familial pain tolerance models, and personality.

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  • 1Institute of Anesthesia and Recovery, University of Bologna, Italy.


The importance of self-control expectancy on postsurgical pain was studied in 126 patients enrolled in a particular clinical setting. The contribution of previous pain experiences, past behaviors, vicarious experiences, and personality traits to self-control expectancy reported by patients was also investigated. To collect this information, a specific questionnaire and a semistructured interview were given before surgery. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI), and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) personality tests were also administered. Postsurgical pain was assessed by measuring intensity (Visual Analogue Scale, VAS), latency (hr), and duration (days). Results show that expected emotional coping response is crucially related to the whole pain experience (intensity, latency, and duration). Self-control expectancy is associated with mastery behaviors in previous pains, vicarious experiences, and personality traits. These findings suggest that the knowledge of patients' beliefs about their ability to acquire and maintain control over impending pain is useful in predicting and managing postsurgical pain.

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