Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Audioanalgesia in the Control of Experimental Pain

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Audioanalgesia in the Control of Experimental Pain

Article excerpt


In the present study we investigated the moderating effects of choice and preference of music on pain perception. Participants initially rated and ranked six musical selections, from most - to - least preferred in a context unrelated to pain testing. In the experiment proper, subjects received three trials of finger - pressure pain of which the first and third trial involved no - treatment. Following baseline, half of the subjects (Choice condition) were asked to rate and rank the previous six musical selections and the remaining subjects were not required to do so (No - Choice). One - third of subjects in each of these groups were assigned either their most - preferred, least - preferred or no music during trial 2. The results indicated that subjects receiving their preferred music reported greater control, expected pain reductions and actual pain reductions compared to groups receiving their least - preferred music or no music. While choice failed to interact with preference, expectancies, coping cognitions and the annoying and relaxing qualities of the music were moderate predictors of reported pain change.

Audioanalgesia refers to attenuations of pain under conditions of auditory stimulation. This procedure was popularized in studies by Gardner, Licklider, & Weisz (1960) who found that auditory stimulation (i.e., volume of white noise) controlled by dental patients was associated with complete suppression of pain for 65% of patients, sufficient suppression to obviate the need for chemical analgesia in 25% of patients, and adequate relief for 10% of patients.

Despite the availability of chemical analgesics today, the cognitive - behavioral revolution of the 1960's has renewed our interest in psychological procedures for pain management. This research has challenged traditional assumptions about the pain experience being the direct result of nocioceptive stimuli impinging on pain receptors, and thus unmediated by psychological factors (Chaves, 1989). Most theories of pain (e.g., Melzack & Wall, 1965) have included motivational - affective and cognitive components of the pain experience. The amelioration of acute pain through the use of cognitive treatments has been found to be more effective than no treatment in a myriad of studies (for reviews see Tan, 1982; Turk, Meichenbaum, & Genest, 1983); however, the relative efficacy of these different treatments is unclear (Devine & Spanos, 1990). Several mechanisms have been hypothesized to underlie the efficacy of cognitive strategy treatments, including minimizing catastrophizing cognitions and enhancing self - efficacy expectations or perceived control over a noxious stimulus. The present study examines the role of these variables in audioanalgesia of experimentally - induced pain.

The efficacy of music in ameliorating pain has been linked to both somatic (e.g., relaxation) and cognitive changes. Listening to music may function to elicit a positive emotional state, as well as distract one from an aversive stimulus. Strategies such as self - distraction and the generation of pleasant imagery inconsistent with acute pain are described as "coping" strategies, and are associated with lower levels of reported pain and higher pain tolerance. In contrast, subjects who focus on and exaggerate the noxious aspects of the stimulation are described as "catastrophizers", the latter strategies being associated with higher levels of reported pain and lower pain tolerance (Spanos, Brown, Jones, & Horner, 1981; Spanos, Ollerhead & Gwynn, 1986).

It has been suggested that the relation between cognitive strategy use and pain reduction is mediated by self - efficacy expectations; that is, beliefs or expectations about one's ability to use strategies for pain control (Bandura, 1977; Kirsch, 1985). Accordingly, subjects with positive self - efficacy expectations are more likely to make sustained use of coping strategies (e. …

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