Pain and Nociceptive Flexion Reflex Threshold in Interpersonal Violence Survivors

by Erin C. Tansill

Institution: Ohio University
Department: Clinical Psychology (Arts and Sciences)
Degree: PhD
Year: 2014
Keywords: Clinical Psychology; Nociceptive Flexion Reflex; Interpersonal Violence; Women; Pain; Emotional Control of Nociception
Record ID: 2025478
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=ohiou1396362223


Interpersonal violence is prevalent on college campuses. Many women experience childhood, adolescent, and/or adulthood experiences of sexual, physical, and/or verbal abuse. Survivors of interpersonal violence often endorse dissociative and/or hyperarousal symptomatology (e.g., hypervigilance, elevated reactance to external stimuli) as well as physical health concerns following a violent event. The researchers in this study focused on the role of psychological symptoms in modulating pain and nociception among those with a history of abuse. Specifically, it was hypothesized that those with higher levels of dissociative symptomatology may exhibit higher pain and NFR thresholds, whereas those with hyperarousal symptomatology may exhibit lower pain and NFR thresholds. The purpose of the current study was to assess subjective pain and Nociceptive Flexion Reflex (NFR) thresholds in interpersonal violence survivors. Results do not support a relationship between abuse history and pain and NFR thresholds, overall. However, childhood sexual abuse, alone, was predictive of pain thresholds, such that higher pain thresholds related to more severe experiences of childhood sexual abuse. Therefore, it may be that this form of interpersonal violence alters individuals' pain perception mechanisms early in life potentially altering how one experiences pain throughout the life span. Related findings and implications for medical, clinical, and social services will be discussed.