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Attention and somatic awareness in chronic pain

Eccleston, Chrisa,*; Crombez, Geertb; Aldrich, Saraha; Stannard, Cathyc

doi: 10.1016/S0304-3959(97)00030-4

Empirical methods are used to explore the relationship between chronic pain, somatic awareness and attention. Using a primary task paradigm, 46 chronic pain patients performed an attentionally demanding task. Patients were classified according to self reported pain intensity and the extent of their reporting of the perception of bodily sensations (somatic awareness). Results showed that, as predicted, disruption of attentional performance was most pronounced in those who reported high pain intensity and high somatic awareness. Further analysis revealed that these patients also reported high negative affect. These findings are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications for the concept of hypervigilance and their clinical implications for chronic pain control.

aPain Management Unit, University of Bath and The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases, Bath, UK

bDepartment of Psychology, Katholieke Universeteit te Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

cFrenchay Pain Services, Bristol, UK

*Corresponding author. School of Social Sciences, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK. Tel.: +44 1225 826439; fax: +44 1225 826381; e-mail:

Received May 28, 1996; revised version received March 18, 1997; accepted April 15, 1997.

© Lippincott-Raven Publishers.
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