Anxiety Sensitivity and Chronic Pain: Empirical Findings, Clinic Implications, and Future Direction
Gordon J. G. Asmundson Regina Health District University of Regina
Most investigations of anxiety sensitivity (AS) have focused on the role that it plays in panic attacks, panic disorder, and the other anxiety disorders. Over the past few years, however, the AS construct has made its way into investigations dealing with other conditions that have close association to panic. For example, AS has been studied in conditions such as asthma ( Carr, Lehrer, Rausch, & Hochron, 1994), alcohol abuse ( Stewart, Peterson, & Pihl, 1995; chap. 13, this volume), depression ( Taylor, Koch, Woody, & McLean, 1996; chap. 6, this volume), and hypochondriasis ( Cox, Fuentes, Ross, Borger, & Taylor, 1996). This chapter examines a new and emerging field of investigation that implicates AS in the maintenance of chronic pain and the exacerbation of pain-related suffering.
This chapter sets the stage for this area of study by examining appurtenant background information, critiques recent investigations that address the association between AS and pain, suggests clinical implications of this work, and outlines avenues of future investigation.
To explore the relation between AS and chronic pain, it is necessary to have a basic understanding of each of these constructs. This section briefly reviews the defining aspects of each. The general association between anxiety and chronic pain is also addressed.