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Context sensitive regulation of pain and emotion: Development and initial validation of a scale for context insensitive avoidance
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work. (Center for Health and Medical Psychology (CHAMP))ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2718-7402
School of Law, Psychology, and Social Work, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden. (Center for Health and Medical Psychology (CHAMP))
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work. (Center for Health and Medical Psychology (CHAMP))ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5359-0452
2017 (English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, ISSN 1877-8860, E-ISSN 1877-8879, Vol. 17, p. 220-225, article id S1877-8860(17)30182-9Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Context insensitivity has been put forward as a potential mechanism explaining the high co-occurrence of pain and emotional distress. In the pain literature, the concept has only been introduced at a theoretical level and an assessment tool for exploring its impact is lacking. In an interpersonal setting, a core aspect of context sensitivity and insensitivity concerns when to disclose and when to avoid expressing pain and related distress. Both context insensitive disclosure and context insensitive avoidance may hamper interpersonal support and fuel the problem. This exploratory study describes an attempt to develop a self-report instrument to assess tendencies to disclose vs. avoid expressions of pain and related distress, as well as self-perceived adjustment of disclosure vs. avoidance to the context.

METHODS: A pool of items was systematically developed to assess different aspects of context insensitivity, including disclosure vs. avoidance of expression. 105 participants with persistent pain were recruited at pain rehabilitation clinics (80% of the sample) and in a university setting (20% of the sample). The participants responded to the pool of items as well as to a number of validated self-report instruments covering pain, pain-related disability, pain catastrophizing, emotion regulation tendencies, self-compassion and pain acceptance. The analyses explored the factorial structure of the initial instrument, as well as the criterion and construct validity.

RESULTS: The analyses confirmed a stable underlying structure of the initial scale, with four distinct factors explaining 64.4% of the total variance. However, the criterion and construct validity could only be confirmed for one of the factors, which contained items reflecting context insensitive avoidance of expression. Consequently, only this factor, demonstrating very good internal consistency, was kept in the final version of the instrument which was named context insensitive avoidance (CIA).

CONCLUSIONS: We found support for the final version of our instrument, capturing one prominent aspect of context insensitivity. Avoidance of expression was related to higher ratings of pain, disability, catastrophizing and suppression as well as to lower levels of self-compassion. We encourage further studies to explore the impact of context insensitive avoidance for regulating pain and associated negative emotions. Yet, more research is needed that goes beyond self-report and includes other aspects of context. It is urgent to develop systematic ways for assessing context insensitivity, as it will enhance our understanding of regulatory strategies as potential transdiagnostic mechanisms in pain and emotion.

IMPLICATIONS: This tool for assessing contextually insensitive avoidance of expression could potentially be used both clinically and in future research to advance our understanding of comorbid problems with pain and emotional distress. Further research is needed to develop methods for assessing other aspects of context insensitivity to fully understand its impact in patients suffering from pain.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Walter de Gruyter, 2017. Vol. 17, p. 220-225, article id S1877-8860(17)30182-9
Keywords [en]
Context sensitivity; Avoidance; Transdiagnostics; Pain; Emotion
National Category
Applied Psychology Neurology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-62470DOI: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2017.08.010ISI: 000419851500039PubMedID: 28919155Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85029009016OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-62470DiVA, id: diva2:1162290
Funder
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P14-0799:1Available from: 2017-12-04 Created: 2017-12-04 Last updated: 2018-01-25Bibliographically approved

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Flink, IdaKlein Strandberg, EsterLinton, Steven J.

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