Somayeh Mohammadi , Mohsen Dehghani , Louise Sharpe , Mahmoud Heidari , Maryam Sedaghat ,Ali Khatibi

Despite increasing interest in the attentional biases of pain patients towards pain-related stimuli, there have been no investigations of whether the main caregivers of chronic pain patients also selectively attend to pain-related information. We compared the attentional biases to painful or happy faces of 120 chronic pain patients, 118 caregivers, and 50 controls. Analyses found that both patients and caregivers demonstrated biases towards painful faces that were not observed in control participants or to happy faces. Those patients and caregivers who were high in fear of pain demonstrated greater biases than those low in fear of pain, and the biases of the high-in-fear-of-pain group differed significantly from zero. When sub-groups of caregivers were compared, it was found that biases towards painful faces were not observed for those caregivers who accurately identified the level of pain the patient currently reported. In contrast, those caregivers who overestimated or underestimated the patients’ pain demonstrated biases that were significantly greater than zero. These results add to the growing weight of evidence suggesting that biases towards pain-related stimuli are observed in chronic pain patients, but that the nature of the stimuli is important. In addition, the results suggest that caregivers, particularly those who either under- or overestimate the level of pain that the patient reports, also demonstrate similar biases. Future research should investigate the links between caregivers’ biases and the way in which caregivers respond to pain.

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Do main caregivers selectively attend to pain-related stimuli in the same way that patients do?

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