Title: The role of motivation in distracting attention away from pain: An experimental study
Authors: Verhoeven, Katrien ×
Crombez, Geert
Eccleston, Christopher
Van Ryckeghem, Dimitri M. L
Morley, Stephen
Van Damme, Stefaan #
Issue Date: 2010
Publisher: Elsevier/North-Holland
Series Title: Pain vol:149 issue:2 pages:229-234
Abstract: Research on the effectiveness of distraction as a method of pain control is inconclusive. One mechanism
pertains to the motivational relevance of distraction tasks. In this study the motivation to engage in a distraction
task during pain was experimentally manipulated. Undergraduate students (N = 73) participated
in a cold pressor test (CPT) and were randomly assigned to three groups: a distraction-only group performed
a tone-detection task during the CPT, a motivated-distraction group performed the same task
and received a monetary reward for good task performance, and a control group did not perform the
tone-detection task. Results indicated that engagement in the distraction task was better in the motivated-
distraction group in comparison with the distraction-only group. Participants in both distraction
groups experienced less pain compared to the control group. There were no overall differences in pain
intensity between the two distraction groups. The effect of distraction was influenced by the level of catastrophic
thinking about pain. For low catastrophizers, both distraction groups reported less pain as compared
to the non-distracted control group. This was not the case for high catastrophizers. For high
catastrophizers it mattered whether the distraction task was motivationally relevant: high catastrophizers
reported less intense pain in the motivated-distraction group, as compared to the non-distracted control
group. We conclude that increasing the motivational relevance of the distraction task may increase
the effects of distraction, especially for those who catastrophize about pain
ISSN: 0304-3959
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Non-KU Leuven Association publications
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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