On the basis of the idea that thoughts held about pain may represent “self-suggestions” and evidence indicating that people with higher levels of trait hypnotizability are more responsive to suggestions, the current study evaluated hypothesized moderating effects of hypnotizability on the associations between pain-related thoughts and both pain intensity and pain interference.
Eighty-five individuals with chronic pain were given measures of hypnotizability, pain intensity, pain interference, and pain-related thoughts (control beliefs, catastrophizing).
Analyses supported a moderating role of hypnotizability on the association between control beliefs and pain interference. Specifically, the negative association between pain control beliefs and pain interference were stronger among those with higher trait hypnotizability than between those with lower trait hypnotizability.
The study findings, if replicated in additional samples of individuals with chronic pain, have important clinical and theoretical implications. For example, if trait hypnotizability is found to predict an individual’s response to a particular technique of cognitive therapy—such as focusing on and repeating pain control belief self-statements—measures of hypnotizability could be used to identify individuals who might be most responsive to this technique. The current findings indicate that research to further examine this possibility is warranted.