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J Pediatr Psychol. 2006 Mar;31(2):209-20. Epub 2005 Apr 20.

Attentional biases to pain and social threat in children with recurrent abdominal pain.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, 401 Quarry Road, Stanford, California 94305, USA. mboyer@post.harvard.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To test whether children with recurrent abdominal pain (RAP) exhibit subliminal (nonconscious) and supraliminal (conscious) attentional biases to pain-related words, and to determine correlates of these biases. Previous research indicates that individuals attend to disorder-relevant threat words, and in this study, attentional biases to disorder-relevant threat (pain), alternative threat (social threat), and neutral words were compared.

METHODS:

Participants were 59 children with RAP who completed a computer-based attentional bias task. Participants and their parents also completed questionnaires measuring pain, somatic complaints, anxiety/depression, and body vigilance.

RESULTS:

Children with RAP showed attentional biases toward subliminal pain-related words and attentional biases away from supraliminal pain-related words. Participants' attentional biases to social threat-related words were marginally significant and also reflected subliminal attention and supraliminal avoidance. Attentional biases were related to parent and child reports of pain, body vigilance, and anxiety/depression.

CONCLUSIONS:

Children with RAP show nonconscious attention to and conscious avoidance of threat-related words. Their attentional biases relate to individual differences in symptom severity. Implications for models of pediatric pain and future studies are discussed.

PMID:
15843503
DOI:
10.1093/jpepsy/jsj015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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