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Pain catastrophizing, threat, and the informational value of mood: Task persistence during a painful finger pressing task

Karsdorp, Petra A.a,*; Ranson, Saskiaa; Schrooten, Martien G.S.a,b; Vlaeyen, Johan W.S.a,b

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doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2012.02.026
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Summary The relationship between pain catastrophizing and task persistence during a painful finger pressing task is modulated by threat context and the informational value of mood.

ABSTRACT Pain catastrophizing has shown to predict avoidance behavior in acute and chronic pain, but the literature is inconsistent. The present study tested the hypothesis that current mood and threat context moderate the relationship between pain catastrophizing and performance duration. Affective-motivational models postulate that negative and positive moods provide information about whether an activity is respectively threatening or safe. Moreover, it has been proposed that stable cognitive schemas about threat influence behavior particularly in threat-relevant contexts. The present study aimed to establish whether pain catastrophizing is related to less or greater performance duration, when participants experience respectively negative or positive moods, particularly in a high threatening pain context. A 2 mood × 2 threat context between-subjects factorial design was applied in 89 healthy participants with pain catastrophizing as covariate and performance duration during a painful finger pressing task as dependent variables. As predicted, higher pain catastrophizing was associated with less performance duration when participants experienced negative moods. The opposite was found when participants experienced positive moods. Moreover, these relationships were most pronounced in a high threatening pain context. This study suggests that the relationship between pain catastrophizing and performance duration during painful activities is moderated by situational factors such as current mood and threat context.

Sponsorships or competing interests that may be relevant to content are disclosed at the end of this article.

aDepartment of Clinical Psychological Science, Research Group Behavioral Medicine, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

bDepartment of Psychology, Research Group Health Psychology, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

*Corresponding author. Address: Department of Clinical Psychological Science, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands. Tel.: +31 43 3881249; fax: +31 43 3884155.

E-mail address:P.Karsdorp@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Article history: Received 8 August 2011; Received in revised form 17 February 2012; Accepted 24 February 2012.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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