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Do fundamental fears differentially contribute to pain-related fear and pain catastrophizing? An evaluation of the sensitivity index

Authors

  • Linda M.G. Vancleef,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Medical, Clinical and Experimental Psychology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
      Tel.: +31 43 3881611; fax: +31 43 3884155/1601.; L.Vancleef@dmkep.unimaas.nl
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  • Madelon L. Peters,

    1. Department of Medical, Clinical and Experimental Psychology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Jeffrey Roelofs,

    1. Department of Medical, Clinical and Experimental Psychology, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 50, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands
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  • Gordon J.G. Asmundson

    1. Anxiety and Illness Behaviours Laboratory, University of Regina, Regina, SK, Canada
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Tel.: +31 43 3881611; fax: +31 43 3884155/1601.; L.Vancleef@dmkep.unimaas.nl

Abstract

Three fundamental fears—anxiety sensitivity (AS), injury/illness sensitivity (IS) and fear of negative evaluation (FNE) – have been proposed to underlie common fears and psychopathological conditions. In pain research, the relation between AS and (chronic) pain processes was the subject of several studies, whereas the possible role of IS has been ignored. The current research examines the role of IS with respect to various pain-related variables in two studies. In the first study, 192 healthy college students completed the Sensitivity Index (SI; a composite measure assessing the three fundamental fears) and various pain-related questionnaires. In a second study, 60 students out of the original sample took part in a pain induction procedure and completed the SI as well. We first examined the properties of the SI. Factor analysis on the SI replicated the proposed factor structure [Taylor S. The structure of fundamental fears, J Behav Ther Exp Psychiat 1993;24:289–99]. However, some items of the ASI did show problematic loadings and were therefore excluded in subsequent analyses. The main hypothesis of the current study states that IS is a stronger predictor than AS of pain catastrophizing and fear of pain as assessed by self-report measures, and of pain tolerance and anticipatory fear of pain as assessed in a pain induction study. This hypothesis could be confirmed for all variables, except for pain tolerance, which was not predicted by any of the three fundamental fears. The current study can be considered as an impetus for devoting attention to IS in future pain research.

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