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Ann Behav Med. 2015 Aug;49(4):557-69. doi: 10.1007/s12160-015-9686-3.

Social Support Attenuates Physiological Stress Responses and Experimental Pain Sensitivity to Cold Pressor Pain.

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1
Department of Psychology, Rhodes College, 2000 North Parkway, Memphis, TN, 38112, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Social support improves health and has been shown to attenuate stress and pain. The precise characteristics of social support responsible for these effects, however, remain elusive.

PURPOSE:

The purpose of this study is to examine the relative efficacy of social support versus a neutral non-verbal social presence to attenuate stress and pain.

METHODS:

Seventy-six participants provided pain ratings and task assessments during a cold pressor task (CPT) in one of three conditions: verbal social support, neutral non-support, or alone. Reactivity to the CPT was assessed via cardiovascular measures, cortisol, and subjective ratings.

RESULTS:

Participants receiving social support showed attenuated blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol reactivity, as well as reduced pain ratings, task difficulty, tension, and effort compared to neutral non-support and alone conditions.

CONCLUSIONS:

Social support, not the mere presence of another individual, attenuated stress and pain during a CPT. Given the negative health consequences of stress and pain, clinical studies incorporating social support into medical procedures and treatments are warranted.

PMID:
25623896
DOI:
10.1007/s12160-015-9686-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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