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Measuring pain : Physiological and self-rated measurements in relation to pain stimulation and anxiety

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Author list: Bernhardsson, Jens
Publication year: 2019
Start page: 668
End page: 675
Number of pages: 8
ISSN: 0001-5172
View additional information: View in Web of Science™

Abstract
Introduction: The aim of the present study was to investigate how emotions influence pain, measured by one subjective self-rated measure, the numeric rating scale (NRS), and one objective physiological measure, the number of skin conductance responses (NSCR). Method: Eighteen volunteers were exposed to conditions with pictorial emotional stimuli (neutral, positive, negative), authentic ICU-sound (noise, no-noise) and electrical stimulation (pain, no-pain) individually titrated to induce moderate pain. When using all combinations of picture inducing emotions, sound, and pain, each of these conditions (12 conditions lasting for 60 seconds each) were followed by pain ratings. Ratings of arousal (low to high) and valence (pleasant to unpleasant) were used as indicators of affective state for each condition. Mean NSCR was also measured throughout the experiment for each condition. Results: Even though NRS and NSCR increased during painful stimuli, they did not correlate during the trial. However, NSCR was positively correlated with the strength of the electrical stimulation, r = 0.48, P = 0.046, whereas NRS showed positive correlations with the anxiety level, assessed by affective ratings (arousal, r = 0.61, P < 0.001, and valence, r = 0.37, P < 0.001). Conclusions: The NRS was strongly influenced by affective state, with higher pain ratings during more anxiety-like states, whereas NSCR correlated to the strength of electrical pain stimulation. That reported pain is moderated by anxiety, puts forward a discussion whether reduction of the anxiety level should be considered during analgesia treatment.


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