New Study Finds Visual Attention Biases in Chronic Pain Sufferers

Using an eye tracker for the first time, a study measured reaction time in chronic pain patients as they were exposed to neutral or pain related words. Words such as distress, pain, agony, hurt, and ache were paid attention to by pain sufferers more often and for a longer amount of time than controls.

The study, published in the Journal of Pain Research, consisted of 51 chronic pain patients and 62 nonsufferers. Researcher and coauthor Professor Joel Katz, Canada Research Chair in Health Psychology, feels this study is step 1 in understanding how words affect chronic pain patients and whether pain becomes more intense or if the words make the patients more attentive to the pain. The study found that “individuals with chronic pain display specific attention biases toward pain related stimuli and demonstrate the value of eye tracking technology in measuring differences in visual attention variables.

To read the article, click here.

To read the Journal of Pain Research article, click here.

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