Effects of attentional focusing on pain perception
Britton W. Brewer and Paul Karoly
Abstract Two experiments were conducted to examine the hypothesized differential effectiveness of two attentional focusing strategies in pain perception. In the first experiment, subjects (72 male college students) rated their levels of pain after being exposed to either low- or high-intensity pressure stimulation for 75 s. Subjects were instructed to use either an external or internal focus of attention during the pain induction. Results revealed that external focusing was more effective for coping than internal focusing across both levels of stimulus intensity. The second experiment was a replication of the first, and featured bolstered internal focusing and stimulus intensity manipulations. Results showed that high-intensity stimulation produced higher pain ratings than did low-intensity stimulation for subjects in the internal focusing conditions, but not for those in the external focusing conditions. The findings support the power of distraction strategies for dealing with short-term pain with a rapid onset. Theoretical implications are discussed.
Motivation and Emotion 13(3), 193-203 DOI: 10.1007/BF00995535
Laser-evoked potentials to noxious stimulation during hypnotic analgesia and distraction of attention suggest different brain mechanisms of pain control
Marc Friederich, Ralf H. Trippe, Mustafa özcan, Thomas Weiss, Holger Hecht and Wolfgang H.R. Miltner
Psychological accounts of hypnosis have hypothesized that hypnosis and attention might share similar mechanisms and that hypnosis simply represents an extensive state of reduced attention. This assumption implies that reports of pain and electrocortical brain responses to painful stimulation should be similarly reduced when subjects are exposed to suggestions of hypnotic analgesia (HA) or requested to distract their attention from painful stimuli (distraction of attention: DA) as compared to a control condition (CC). To test this hypothesis, we recorded event-related electrical brain potentials to noxious laser-heat stimuli and pain reports during HA, DA, and CC from subjects highly susceptible to hypnotic suggestions. Pain reports were significantly reduced during HA and DA as compared to CC. The amplitudes of the late laser-evoked brain potential (LEP) components N200 and P320 were also significantly smaller during DA than during CC. However, no significant difference of these late LEP amplitudes was obtained for HA as compared to CC. Results indicate that hypnotic analgesia and distraction of attention represent different mechanisms of pain control and involve different brain mechanisms. Psychophysiology
Volume 38 Page 768 - September 2001 doi:10.1111/1469-8986.3850768
A Comparison of Distraction Strategies for Venipuncture Distress in Children
MacLaren and Cohen
Objective To compare the effects of two pediatric venipuncture distress-management distraction strategies that differed in the degree to which they required children's interaction. Methods Eighty-eight 1- to 7-year-old children receiving venipuncture were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions: interactive toy distraction, passive movie distraction, or standard care. Distress was examined via parent, nurse, self-report (children over 4 years), and observational coding. Engagement in distraction was assessed via observational coding.ResultsChildren in the passive condition were more distracted and less distressed than children in the interactive condition. Although children in the interactive condition were more distracted than standard care children, there were no differences in distress between these groups. Conclusions Despite literature that suggests that interactive distraction should lower distress more than passive distraction, results indicate that a passive strategy might be most effective for children's venipuncture. It is possible that children's distress interfered with their ability to interact with the distractor.
J. Pediatr. Psychol..2005; 30: 387-396. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jsi062
Parents' Positioning and Distracting Children During Venipuncture
Effects on Children's Pain, Fear, and Distress
Kim Cavender, Melinda D. Goff, Ellen C. Hollon, Cathie E. Guzzetta,
The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of parental positioning and distraction on the pain, fear, and distress of pediatric patients undergoing venipuncture. An experimental-comparison group design was used to evaluate 43 patients (20 experimental and 23 comparison) who were 4 to 11 years old. Experimental participants used parental positioning and distraction. All participants rated their pain and fear; parents and child life specialists (CLS) rated the child's fear, and CLS rated the child's distress. Self-reported pain and fear were highly correlated (p < .001) but not significantly different between the two groups. Fear rated by CLS (p < .001) and parents (p = .003) was significantly lower in experimental participants. Although no difference was found in distress between the two groups, a significant time trend was discovered (p < .001). The parental positioning-distraction intervention has the potential to enhance positive clinical outcomes with a primary benefit of decreased fear. Further research is warranted.
Children's Medical Center of Dallas Journal of Holistic Nursing, Vol. 22, No. 1, 32-56 (2004)
Link (full text)
Brief Cognitive Interventions for Burn Pain
Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite, John W. Lawrence, James A. Fauerbach
This study tested the efficacy of 2 brief cognitive interventions in supplementing regular medical treatment for pain during burn dressing change. Forty-two burn inpatients were randomly assigned to 3 groups: sensory focusing, music distraction, and usual care. Patients reported pain, pain relief, satisfaction with pain control, and pain coping strategies. The sensory focusing group reported greater pain relief compared to the music distraction group and a reduction in remembered pain compared to the usual care group, although group differences were not observed on serial pain ratings. In addition, after controlling for burn size and relevant covariates, regression analyses indicated that catastrophizing predicted pain, memory for pain, and satisfaction with pain control. Refinement of the sensory focusing intervention is warranted to reduce catastrophic thinking and improve pain relief.
Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2001, Vol. 23, No. 1, Pages 42-49
Categories: Attention, Distraction, Hypnosis