CRVAW Faculty Journal Articles

Psychological Coping with Acute Pain: An Examination of the Role of Endogenous Opioid Mechanisms


This study examined the relationship among endogenous opioids, Monitoring and Blunting coping styles, and acute pain responses. Fifty-eight male subjects underwent a 1-min pressure pain stimulus during two laboratory sessions. Subjects experienced this pain stimulus once under endogenous opioid blockade with naltrexone and once in a placebo condition. Blunting was found to be negatively correlated with pain ratings, but this relationship was significantly more prominent under opioid blockade. Results for coping behaviors subjects used to manage the experimental pain were generally consistent with the Blunting results, indicating that cognitive coping was related more strongly to decreased pain ratings and cardiovascular stress responsiveness under opioid blockade. Overall, the beneficial effects of Blunting and cognitive coping on pain responses did not depend upon endogenous opioids and, in fact, became stronger when opioid receptors were blocked. The relationship between endogenous opioids and coping appears to be dependent upon situational and stimulus characteristics.

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