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Pain Pract. 2016 Jul;16(6):657-68. doi: 10.1111/papr.12306. Epub 2015 May 26.

Impact of Threat Level, Task Instruction, and Individual Characteristics on Cold Pressor Pain and Fear among Children and Their Parents.

Author information

1
Departments of Psychology & Neuroscience, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
2
Centre for Pediatric Pain Research, IWK Health Centre, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
3
Center for Child Health, Behavior, & Development, Seattle Children's Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
4
Department of Psychology and Centre for Pain Research, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.
5
Victoria Hospital, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario, Canada.
6
Department of Pediatrics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Abstract

The cold pressor task (CPT) is increasingly used to induce experimental pain in children, but the specific methodology of the CPT is quite variable across pediatric studies. This study examined how subtle variations in CPT methodology (eg. provision of low- or high-threat information regarding the task; provision or omission of maximum immersion time) may influence children's and parents' perceptions of the pain experience. Forty-eight children (8 to 14 years) and their parents were randomly assigned to receive information about the CPT that varied on 2 dimensions, prior to completing the task: (i) threat level: high-threat (task described as very painful, high pain expressions depicted) or low-threat (standard CPT instructions provided, low pain expressions depicted); (ii) ceiling: informed (provided maximum immersion time) or uninformed (information about maximum immersion time omitted). Parents and children in the high-threat condition expected greater child pain, and these children reported higher perceived threat of pain and state pain catastrophizing. For children in the low-threat condition, an informed ceiling was associated with less state pain catastrophizing during the CPT. Pain intensity, tolerance, and fear during the CPT did not differ by experimental group, but were predicted by child characteristics. Findings suggest that provision of threatening information may impact anticipatory outcomes, but experienced pain was better explained by individual child variables.

KEYWORDS:

children; cold pressor task; experimental methods; fear; parents; pediatric pain; threat

PMID:
26011606
DOI:
10.1111/papr.12306
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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