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See detailClinical relevance of attentional biases in pediatric chronic pain: an eye-tracking study
Soltani, Sabine; van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Vervoort, Tine et al

in Pain (in press)

Attentional biases have been posited as one of the key mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of chronic pain and co-occurring internalizing mental health symptoms. Despite this theoretical ... [more ▼]

Attentional biases have been posited as one of the key mechanisms underlying the development and maintenance of chronic pain and co-occurring internalizing mental health symptoms. Despite this theoretical prominence, a comprehensive understanding of the nature of biased attentional processing in chronic pain and its relationship to theorized antecedents and clinical outcomes is lacking, particularly in youth. This study used eye-tracking to assess attentional bias for painful facial expressions and its relationship to theorized antecedents of chronic pain and clinical outcomes. Youth with chronic pain (n = 125) and without chronic pain (n = 52) viewed face images of varying levels of pain expressiveness while their eye gaze was tracked and recorded. At baseline, youth completed questionnaires to assess pain characteristics, theorized antecedents (pain catastrophizing, fear of pain, and anxiety sensitivity), and clinical outcomes (pain intensity, interference, anxiety, depression, and posttraumatic stress). For youth with chronic pain, clinical outcomes were reassessed at 3 months to assess for relationships with attentional bias while controlling for baseline symptoms. In both groups, youth exhibited an attentional bias for painful facial expressions. For youth with chronic pain, attentional bias was not significantly associated with theorized antecedents or clinical outcomes at baseline or 3-month follow-up. These findings call into question the posited relationships between attentional bias and clinical outcomes. Additional studies using more comprehensive and contextual paradigms for the assessment of attentional bias are required to clarify the ways in which such biases may manifest and relate to clinical outcomes. [less ▲]

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See detailCan perioperative psychological interventions decrease the risk of post-surgical pain and disability? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Nadinda, Putu G; van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Peters, Madelon L

in Pain (2021)

Many patients experience pain after surgery. Psychological factors such as emotion and cognition are shown to be associated with the development of acute and chronic post-surgical pain. Therefore, the ... [more ▼]

Many patients experience pain after surgery. Psychological factors such as emotion and cognition are shown to be associated with the development of acute and chronic post-surgical pain. Therefore, the question arises whether targeting these psychological factors can reduce negative post-surgical outcomes. The aim of the current review is to investigate the efficacy of perioperative psychological interventions in reducing (sub)acute and chronic post-surgical pain and disability in adults. Randomized controlled trials were identified through four databases (Web of Science, PsycINFO, PubMed, and CINAHL). The outcomes of interest were (sub)acute (i.e., within 3 months after surgery) and chronic (> 3 months after surgery) pain and disability. After screening, 21 studies were included in the final analyses. It was found that psychological interventions significantly reduced (sub)acute pain (d = -0.26, 95% CI [-0.48 to -0.04]), and disability (d = -0.43, 95% CI [-0.84 to -0.03]), as well as chronic post-surgical pain (d = -0.33, 95% CI [-0.61 to -0.06]), and disability (d = -0.43, 95% CI [-0.68 to -0.18]). Additionally, interventions delivered after surgery and interventions delivered by a psychologist tended to be more effective than interventions delivered before surgery and interventions delivered by another healthcare provider. Furthermore, the current review points to the need for more research to determine which specific type of intervention may be most beneficial for surgical patients. Finally, the current review identified that research in this domain has concerns regarding bias in missing outcomes data due to withdrawal and drop out. [less ▲]

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See detailChronic primary pain in the COVID-19 pandemic: how uncertainty and stress impact on functioning and suffering
Meulders, Ann; Vlaeyen, Johan W S; Evers, Andrea W M et al

in Pain (2021)

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See detailRacial disparities in observers' attention to and estimations of others' pain
Kissi, Ama; van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Mende-Siedlecki et al

in Pain (2021)

Research has demonstrated racial disparities in pain care such that Black patients often receive poorer pain care than White patients. Little is known about mechanisms accounting for the emergence of such ... [more ▼]

Research has demonstrated racial disparities in pain care such that Black patients often receive poorer pain care than White patients. Little is known about mechanisms accounting for the emergence of such disparities. The present study had 2 aims. First, we examined whether White observers' attentional processing of pain (using a visual search task [VST] indexing attentional engagement to and attentional disengagement from pain) and estimation of pain experience differed between White vs Black faces. Second, we examined whether these differences were moderated by (1) racially biased beliefs about pain experience and (2) the level of pain expressed by Black vs White faces. Participants consisted of 102 observers (87 females) who performed a VST assessing pain-related attention to White vs Black avatar pain faces. Participants also reported on racially biased beliefs about White vs Black individuals' pain experience and rated the pain intensities expressed by White and Black avatar faces. Results indicated facilitated attentional engagement towards Black (vs White) pain faces. Furthermore, observers who more strongly endorsed the belief that White individuals experience pain more easily than Black individuals had less difficulty disengaging from Black (vs White) pain faces. Regarding pain estimations, observers gave higher pain ratings to Black (vs White) faces expressing high pain and White (vs Black) faces expressing no pain. The current findings attest to the importance of future research into the role of observer attentional processing of sufferers' pain in understanding racial disparities in pain care. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed, and future research directions are outlined. [less ▲]

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See detailMotor action changes pain perception : a sensory attenuation paradigm in the context of pain
Pinto, Eleana; van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Meulders, Ann et al

in PAIN (2021)

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See detailThe time course of attentional biases in pain : a meta-analysis of eye tracking studies
Jones, Emma Blaisdale; Sharpe, Louise; Andrews, Sally et al

in PAIN (2021)

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See detailAttentional biases in pediatric chronic pain : an eye-tracking study assessing the nature of the bias and its relation to attentional control
Soltani, Sabine; van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Vervoort, Tine et al

in PAIN (2020), 161(10), 2263--2273

Attentional biases are posited to play a key role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain in adults and youth. However, research to date has yielded mixed findings, and few studies have ... [more ▼]

Attentional biases are posited to play a key role in the development and maintenance of chronic pain in adults and youth. However, research to date has yielded mixed findings, and few studies have examined attentional biases in pediatric samples. This study used eye-gaze tracking to examine attentional biases to pain-related stimuli in a clinical sample of youth with chronic pain and pain-free controls. The moderating role of attentional control was also examined. Youth with chronic pain (n = 102) and pain-free controls (n = 53) viewed images of children depicting varying levels of pain expressiveness paired with neutral faces while their eye gaze was recorded. Attentional control was assessed using both a questionnaire and a behavioural task. Both groups were more likely to first fixate on high pain faces but showed no such orienting bias for moderate or low pain faces. Youth with chronic pain fixated longer on all pain faces than neutral faces, whereas youth in the control group exhibited a total fixation bias only for high and moderate pain faces. Attentional control did not moderate attentional biases between or within groups. The results lend support to theoretical models positing the presence of attentional biases in youth with chronic pain. Further research is required to clarify the nature of attentional biases and their relationship to clinical outcomes. [less ▲]

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See detailCognitive biases in pain: An integrated functional-contextual framework
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Noel, Melanie; Sharpe, Louise et al

in Pain (2019)

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See detailTask interference and distraction efficacy in patients with fibromyalgia: an experimental investigation
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Rost, Silke; Kissi, Ama et al

in Pain (2018), 159(6), 1119-1126

Pain has the capacity to interfere with daily tasks. Although task interference by pain is largely unintentional, it can be controlled to a certain extent. Such top-down control over pain has been thought ... [more ▼]

Pain has the capacity to interfere with daily tasks. Although task interference by pain is largely unintentional, it can be controlled to a certain extent. Such top-down control over pain has been thought to be reduced in fibromyalgia patients. In this study, we investigated task interference and distraction efficacy in fibromyalgia patients (FM) and a matched healthy control group. Forty-nine fibromyalgia patients and 49 heathy volunteers performed as quickly as possible (a) a visual localization task in the presence of non-painful vibrating or painful electric somatic stimuli, and (b) a somatosensory localization task (using non-painful or painful stimuli). Participants reported on their experience of the somatic stimuli on some of the trials during both localisation tasks. Results indicated that pain interferes with performance of the visual task, in both FM patients and healthy individuals. Furthermore, participants experienced the pain stimulus as less intense when directing attention away from the pain than when focusing on the pain. Overall, task performance of FM patients was slower compared to the task performance in the healthy control group. In contrast to our hypotheses, FM patients and healthy volunteers did not differ in the magnitude of the interference effect and distraction-efficacy. In conclusion, current study provides support for contemporary theories claiming that attention modulates the experience of pain and vice versa. However, no evidence was however found for an altered attentional processing of pain in fibromyalgia patients. Furthermore, results indicate that task interference and distraction-efficacy are not just two sides of the same coin. [less ▲]

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See detailParental emotion and pain control behaviour when faced with child’s pain: the emotion regulatory role of parental pain-related attention-set shifting and heart rate variability
Vervoort, Tine; Karos, Kai; Johnson, Dan et al

in Pain (2018)

, The present study investigated the moderating role of parental pain-related attention-set shifting and heart rate variability (HRV) for parental distress and pain control behaviour when faced with their ... [more ▼]

, The present study investigated the moderating role of parental pain-related attention-set shifting and heart rate variability (HRV) for parental distress and pain control behaviour when faced with their child’s pain. Participants were 54 school children and one of their parents. Parental HRV was assessed at study commencement followed by a cued switching task indexing parental ability to flexibly shift attention between pain-related and neutral attentional sets. In a subsequent phase, parents observed their child perform a CPT task, allowing assessment of parental pain control behavior (indexed by latency to stop their child’s CPT performance) and parental distress – assessed via self-report following observation of child CPT performance. Findings indicated that parental facilitated attentional shifting (i.e., engage) towards a pain-related attentional set contributed to higher levels of pain control behaviour when faced with increasing levels of chid facial display of pain. Pain control behaviour amongst parents who demonstrated impeded attentional shifting to a pain-related attentional set was equally pronounced regardless of low or high levels of child pain expression. Parental ability to shift attention away (i.e., disengage) from a pain related set to a neutral set did not impact findings. Results further indicated that whereas high levels of parental HRV buffers the impact of child facial pain display upon parental emotional distress and pain control behaviour, low levels of HRV constitute a risk factor for higher levels of parental distress and pain control behaviour when faced with increased child facial pain display. Theoretical/clinical implications and further research directions are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailAttention bias modification training for adolescents with chronic pain: A randomized placebo-controlled trial
Heathcote, Lauren C; Jacobs, Conrad; Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL et al

in Pain (2018), 159(2), 239-251

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See detailAffective instability in patients with chronic pain: a diary approach
Rost, Silke UL; Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri; Koval, Peter et al

in Pain (2016), 157(8), 1783-1790

Affective instability, conceptualized as fluctuations in mood over time, has been related to ill-health and psychopathology. In this study we examined the role of affective instability upon daily pain ... [more ▼]

Affective instability, conceptualized as fluctuations in mood over time, has been related to ill-health and psychopathology. In this study we examined the role of affective instability upon daily pain outcomes in 70 chronic pain patients (Mage = 49.7 years; 46 females) using an end-of-day diary. During a baseline phase, patients completed self-reported questionnaires of pain severity, pain duration, disability, depression and anxiety. During a subsequent diary phase, patients filled out an electronic end-of-day diary over 14 consecutive days assessing daily levels of pain severity, disability, cognitive complaints, negative affect (NA) and positive affect (PA). Affective instability was operationalized as the mean square of successive differences (MSSD) in daily mood (separately for NA and PA), which takes into account the size of affective changes over consecutive days. Results indicated that NA instability was positively associated with daily disability, beyond the effects of daily pain severity. Furthermore, NA instability moderated the relationship between daily pain severity and daily disability and the relationship between daily pain severity and daily cognitive complaints. PA instability, however showed to be unrelated to all outcomes. Current findings extend previous results and reveal the putative role of affective instability upon pain-related outcomes and may yield important clinical implications. Indeed, they suggest that targeting NA instability by improving emotion regulation skills may be a strategy to diminish disability and cognitive complaints in patients with chronic pain. [less ▲]

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See detailThe relationship between adolescents' pain catastrophizing and attention bias to pain faces is moderated by attention control.
Heathcote, Lauren C.; Vervoort, Tine; Eccleston, Christopher et al

in Pain (2015), 156(7), 1334-41

This study considered the attentional functioning of adolescents with varying levels of pain catastrophizing. Specifically, we investigated the relationship between pain catastrophizing and attention bias ... [more ▼]

This study considered the attentional functioning of adolescents with varying levels of pain catastrophizing. Specifically, we investigated the relationship between pain catastrophizing and attention bias to pain facial expressions. Furthermore, drawing on dual process models in the context of pain, we investigated the moderating role of attention control on this relationship. Adolescents (N = 73; age, 16-18 years) performed a dot-probe task in which facial expressions of pain and neutral expressions were presented for 100 milliseconds and 1250 milliseconds. Participants also completed self-report pain catastrophizing and attention control measures. We found that although there was no main effect of pain catastrophizing on attention bias towards pain faces, attention control did significantly moderate this relationship. Further analysis revealed that lower levels of attention control were significantly associated with increasing attentional vigilance towards pain faces only within high catastrophizing adolescents. In addition, we found that poorer attention control was related to increased attention bias for pain faces (regardless of pain catastrophizing level) when these faces were presented for relatively longer durations (ie, 1250 milliseconds) but not for short durations (ie, 100 milliseconds). This study supports a dual process model of attentional processes in pain, thus replicating previous findings within the psychopathology literature but extending them to the study of pain. Theoretical and clinical implications of our findings are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailThe Experience of Cognitive Intrusion of Pain: scale development and validation.
Attridge, Nina; Crombez, Geert; Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL et al

in Pain (2015), 156(10), 1978-90

Patients with chronic pain often report their cognition to be impaired by pain, and this observation has been supported by numerous studies measuring the effects of pain on cognitive task performance ... [more ▼]

Patients with chronic pain often report their cognition to be impaired by pain, and this observation has been supported by numerous studies measuring the effects of pain on cognitive task performance. Furthermore, cognitive intrusion by pain has been identified as one of 3 components of pain anxiety, alongside general distress and fear of pain. Although cognitive intrusion is a critical characteristic of pain, no specific measure designed to capture its effects exists. In 3 studies, we describe the initial development and validation of a new measure of pain interruption: the Experience of Cognitive Intrusion of Pain (ECIP) scale. In study 1, the ECIP scale was administered to a general population sample to assess its structure and construct validity. In study 2, the factor structure of the ECIP scale was confirmed in a large general population sample experiencing no pain, acute pain, or chronic pain. In study 3, we examined the predictive value of the ECIP scale in pain-related disability in fibromyalgia patients. The ECIP scale scores followed a normal distribution with good variance in a general population sample. The scale had high internal reliability and a clear 1-component structure. It differentiated between chronic pain and control groups, and it was a significant predictor of pain-related disability over and above pain intensity. Repairing attentional interruption from pain may become a novel target for pain management interventions, both pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic. [less ▲]

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See detailAttentional bias and chronic pain: where to go from here?
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Crombez, Geert

in Pain (2014), 155(1), 6-7

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See detailChildren's selective attention to pain and avoidance behaviour: the role of child and parental catastrophizing about pain.
Vervoort, Tine; Trost, Zina; Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL

in Pain (2013), 154(10), 1979-88

The present study investigated selective attention to pain in children, its implications for child avoidance behaviour, and the moderating role of dimensions comprising child and parental catastrophizing ... [more ▼]

The present study investigated selective attention to pain in children, its implications for child avoidance behaviour, and the moderating role of dimensions comprising child and parental catastrophizing about pain (ie, rumination, magnification, and helplessness). Participants were 59 children (31 boys) aged 10-16 years and one of their parents (41 mothers). Children performed a dot-probe task in which child facial pain displays of varying pain expressiveness were presented. Child avoidance behaviour was indexed by child pain tolerance during a cold-pressor task. Children and parents completed measures of child and parent pain catastrophizing, respectively. Findings indicated that both the nature of child selective attention to pain and the impact of selective attention upon child avoidance behaviour were differentially sensitive to specific dimensions of child and parental catastrophizing. Specifically, findings showed greater tendency to shift attention away from pain faces (i.e.,, attentional avoidance) among children reporting greater pain magnification. A similar pattern was observed in terms of parental characteristics, such that children increasingly shifted attention away from pain with increasing levels of parental rumination and helplessness. Furthermore, child attentional avoidance was associated with greater avoidance behaviour (i.e., lower pain tolerance) among children reporting high levels of pain magnification and those whose parents reported greater rumination about pain. The current findings corroborate catastrophizing as a multidimensional construct that may differentially impact outcomes and attest to the importance of assessing both child and parental characteristics in relation to child pain-related attention and avoidance behaviour. Further research directions are discussed. [less ▲]

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See detailThe predictive value of attentional bias towards pain-related information in chronic pain patients: a diary study.
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; Crombez, Geert; Goubert, Liesbet et al

in Pain (2013), 154(3), 468-75

Theoretical accounts of chronic pain hypothesize that attentional bias towards pain-related information is a maintaining or exacerbating factor, fuelling further pain, disability, and distress. However ... [more ▼]

Theoretical accounts of chronic pain hypothesize that attentional bias towards pain-related information is a maintaining or exacerbating factor, fuelling further pain, disability, and distress. However, empirical research testing this idea is currently lacking. In the present study, we investigated whether attentional bias towards pain-related information predicts daily pain-related outcomes in a sample of chronic pain patients (n=69; M(age)=49.64 years; 46 females). During an initial laboratory session, attentional bias to pain-related information was assessed using a modified spatial cueing task. In advance, patients completed a number of self-report measures assessing current pain intensity, current disability, and pain duration. Subsequently, daily pain outcomes (self-reported pain severity, disability, avoidance behaviour, and distractibility) were measured for 2 weeks by means of an electronic diary. Results indicated that, although an attentional bias towards pain-related information was associated with the current level of disability and pain severity, it had no additional value above control variables in predicting daily pain severity, avoidance, distractibility, and disability. Attentional bias towards pain-related information did, however, moderate the relationship between daily pain severity and both daily disability and distractibility, indicating that, particularly in those patients with a strong attentional bias, increases in pain were associated with increased disability and distractibility. The use of interventions that diminish attentional bias may therefore be helpful to reduce daily disability and the level of distraction from current tasks despite the presence of pain in chronic pain patients. [less ▲]

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See detailImplicit associations between pain and self-schema in patients with chronic pain.
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri UL; De Houwer, Jan; Van Bockstaele, Bram et al

in Pain (2013), 154(12), 2700-6

Chronic pain often interferes with daily functioning, and may become a threat to an individual's sense of self. Despite the development of a recent theoretical account focussing upon the relationship ... [more ▼]

Chronic pain often interferes with daily functioning, and may become a threat to an individual's sense of self. Despite the development of a recent theoretical account focussing upon the relationship between the presence of chronic pain and a person's self, research investigating this idea is limited. In the present study we aimed to (1) compare the strength of association between self- and pain schema in patients with chronic pain and healthy control subjects and (2) research whether the strength of association between self- and pain-schema is related to particular pain-related outcomes and individual differences of patients with chronic pain. Seventy-three patients with chronic pain (M(age) = 49.95; SD = 9.76) and 53 healthy volunteers (M(age) = 48.53; SD = 10.37) performed an Implicit Association Test (IAT) to assess the strength of association between pain- and self-schema. Patients with chronic pain also filled out self-report measures of pain severity, pain suffering, disability, depression, anxiety, acceptance, and helplessness. Results indicated that the pain- and self-schema were more strongly associated in patients with chronic pain than in healthy control subjects. Second, results indicated that, in patients with chronic pain, a stronger association between self- and pain-schema, as measured with the IAT, is related to a heightened level of pain severity, pain suffering, anxiety, and helplessness. Current findings give first support for the use of an IAT to investigate the strength of association between self- and pain-schema in patients with chronic pain and suggest that pain therapies may incorporate techniques that intervene on the level of self-pain enmeshment. [less ▲]

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