Chronic pain and cognition: effects of pain intensity on tasks of attention and memory




Townsend, Laurel Ann

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The impact of pain intensity upon tasks of attention and memory was investigated, with the specific aim of evaluating differences in effortful versus automatic processing, implicit versus explicit memory, and right versus left hemisphere measures. All research participants in the study had been diagnosed with chronic pain conditions and each person completed memory and attention tasks, measures of intelligence, emotional functioning, and cognitive failures, and provided pain intensity ratings. Ratings regarding level of fatigue, quality of sleep, perceived control over pain, and perceived effect of pain on attention and memory were also obtained. With age, education, fatigue, and self-efficacy controlled, performance on the cognitive tasks was used to predict pain intensity through a series of hierarchical multiple regressions. Performance on the cognitive tasks was not able to account for a significant amount of the variance in pain intensity. Self-efficacy and fatigue were also noted as strong predictors of pain intensity among this sample. Implications are discussed in view of rehabilitation and neuropsychological assessment of persons with chronic pain, as well as clinical interventions with this population.



Pain, Chronic diseases, Cognition