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Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain : Interpretation Bias Favoring Pain

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The current study was designed to explore whether people with chronic musculoskeletal pain show interpretation bias favoring pain-related interpretations of ambiguous real-world images with both possible pain-related and non-pain related interpretations. The results did not support the hypothesis that chronic musculoskeletal pain participants, compared to healthy control participants, would interpret ambiguous real-world images in pain-related ways. No significant effects were found for written responses or endorsement of statements. Interpretation bias has been found in studies using homophone, homonym, and the word-stem completion task. For example, Pincus et al. (1994) found individuals with chronic pain made more pain-related…show more content…
According to the Threat Interpretation Model proposed by Todd et al. (2015) recently, the degree of perceived threat of pain has an impact on whether an individual will demonstrate cognitive bias towards the stimuli. The association between perceived threat and cognitive bias is mediated by sustained attention. When threat is in medium level, chronic pain patients have difficult disengaging from pain-related stimuli while healthy individuals can disengage quickly in order to maintain positive mood. However, when the level of threat is either very low or very high, chronic pain patients tend to avoid pain-related stimuli, as proposed by fear-avoidant models (Todd et al., 2015). In the current study, pre-experiment ratings showed that ambiguous images were much less arousing than pain-related images. It is possible that lack of threat in ambiguous images precluded observable interpretation bias in chronic pain patients. Secondly, priori power calculation showed a sample size of 52 was needed to reach a power of 0.8 with a large effect size. However, only 42 participants were successfully recruited, which reduced the power of the current study. However, previous studies with similar sample sizes (Pincus et al., 1996) found evidence of cognitive biases in chronic pain patients. On the other hand, we assumed a large effect size based on
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