Description: Low back pain has long been estimated to be the most prevalent and debilitating source of chronic pain. The present study first reviews the literature addressing the various theories of pain, the physiological and psychological variables important in pain research, and the psychotherapeutic approaches that have been used to date to reduce pain. Thirty-seven hospitalized chronic back pain patients were administered the cold-pressor test and a medical pain stimulus procedure which was medically relevant to their back pathology. A card-sort method was utilized in order to assess the coping strategies employed by the patients during these two pain stimulus tasks. These procedures were repeated following treatment. Coping strategies used by patients during the two pain tasks were compared. Results demonstrated that there was a significant difference in the manner in which patients coped with the two types of pain. Cold-pressor measures of pain threshold and tolerance were not significantly different between pretreatment and post-treatment. These measures were also not positively correlated with treatment outcome. A multiple regression approach demonstrated that particular coping strategies were significantly predictive of treatment outcome. The medical pain stimulus procedure was found to provide more significant pedictor variables than the cold-pressor test. At pre-treatment assessment, patients who relied on dramatized coping strategies were less likely to be successful in treatment. Breathing activity and pain acknowledgement were positive coping techniques highly predictive of successful outcome in this study. The use of computers for assessment and other recommendations for future research were discussed.
Date: December 1985
Creator: Hinnant, Donald Wayne