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Auton Neurosci. 2017 Jul;205:72-76. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2017.05.006. Epub 2017 May 13.

The effect of anxiety sensitivity on psychological and biological variables during the cold pressor test.

Author information

1
Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Psychological Science, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, Japan. Electronic address: ndodo@hoku-iryo-u.ac.jp.
2
Department of Communication Disorders, School of Psychological Science, Health Sciences University of Hokkaido, Japan. Electronic address: hashi-ryu@hoku-iryo-u.ac.jp.

Abstract

We examined the relationship between anxiety sensitivity (AS) and autonomic nervous system responses (ANS) during the cold pressor test (CPT). Seventy-four university students participated and were divided into low-AS (M=9.06, SD=3.97) and high-AS groups (M=28.68, SD=6.63) based on AS Index scores (n's=36 and 38, respectively). The study included three phases: Rest, CPT, and Recovery. We measured the psychological variables (fear of pain and subjective pain) at pre- and post-CPT. ANS response data were collected during each phase. Fear of pain was experienced more strongly in the high-AS group (M=4.74, SD=3.25) relative to the low-AS group (M=2.72, SD=2.31), and subjective pain was also stronger in the high-AS group (M=3.08, SD=1.91) relative to the low-AS group (M=2.47, SD=1.00) in post-CPT. While parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) responses did not differ between the two groups during the CPT, the high AS-group demonstrated lower PNS activity during the Recovery phase. The high-AS group reported significantly more anticipatory fear and pain prior to the CPT, which appeared to aggravate subjective pain experiences. Furthermore, for individuals with anxiety sensitivity, ANS reactivity may be the mechanism underlying the relationship between negative affect and subjective pain.

KEYWORDS:

Anxiety sensitivity; Autonomic nervous system responses; Cold pressor test; Fear; Pain

PMID:
28529060
DOI:
10.1016/j.autneu.2017.05.006
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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