Navigation Links
Psychologists identify influence of social interaction on sensitivity to physical pain

TORONTO, ON Psychologists at the University of Toronto have shown that the nature of a social interaction has the ability to influence an individual's sensitivity to physical pain. The discovery could have significant clinical implications for doctor-patient relationships and the general well-being of an individual on a daily basis.

"Dozens of studies over the past several decades have demonstrated the impact of inadequate social connectedness on numerous health outcomes, including cardiovascular health, immune function, post-surgical recovery, and lifespan," says Terry Borsook, a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at U of T and author of a new study published in PAIN. "Our study is among the first to show in humans that the perception of physical pain can be immediately impacted by the types of social experiences that people have in their everyday lives."

In the study, healthy participants rated the intensity and unpleasantness of painful stimuli before and after engaging in a structured interaction with a trained actor who was instructed to be either warm and friendly or indifferent throughout the exchange. Participants who experienced the indifferent social exchange reported less sensitivity to pain after the interaction when compared to that measured before the exchange. Participants exposed to the positive social interaction, however, exhibited no change in pain sensitivity.

"While the analgesic effect resulting from a socially disconnecting event might seem like a good thing, we know from a great deal of research in animals and humans that social threats provoke the well-known fight-or-flight stress response, of which pain inhibition is a typical component."

Borsook says that the results suggest that social relationships may be of such critical importance to human health and well-being that even a mild threat of disconnection can be stressful.

"This stress-induced analgesia evolved so that we can escape threats without being hobbled by pain. The pain reduction observed in our study is thus consistent with prior findings but what is remarkable about our results is that analgesia occurred in response to a type of experience that people experience in daily life, perhaps several times a day," says Borsook. "If such everyday mildly unpleasant encounters are enough to provoke pain inhibition, then this suggests that many people may be exposed to chronic fight-or-flight responses, which can have many negative implications for health. This would be the case especially for people who are sensitive to social exclusion, such as those who feel lonely or fear rejection"

Borsook says that the results also have important clinical implications when it comes to seeing your doctor. "Health practitioners who are aloof, lack understanding, or are generally unresponsive to patients may provoke an analgesic response resulting in underestimated reports of pain, with insufficient pain control measures being a possible consequence."


Contact: Sean Bettam
University of Toronto

Related biology news :

1. UNC scientists identify cellular communicators for cancer virus
2. Scientists describe new approach for identifying genetic markers for common diseases
3. UMMS researchers identify protein associated with sporadic ALS
4. Biologists identify influence of environment on sexual vs. asexual reproduction
5. Identifying subsets of patients who will respond to subsequent lines of chemotherapy
6. UNH researcher helps identify key reproductive hormone in oldest vertebrate
7. Iowa State, Ames Lab researchers identify structure that allows bacteria to resist drugs
8. Scripps scientists develop test providing new pathway for identifying obesity, diabetes drugs
9. CRISPR critters: Scientists identify key enzyme in microbial immune system
10. Researchers identify how bone-marrow stem cells hold their breath in low-oxygen environments
11. Scientists identify molecules involved in touch and other mechanically activated systems
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/21/2016)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , June 21, 2016 ... been appointed to the new role of principal ... has been named the director of customer development. ... , NuData,s chief technical officer. The moves reflect ... development teams in response to high customer demand ...
(Date:6/15/2016)... , June 15, 2016 ... report titled "Gesture Recognition Market by Application Market - Global Industry ... - 2024". According to the report, the  global gesture ... in 2015 and is estimated to grow at ... billion by 2024.  Increasing application of ...
(Date:6/7/2016)... 2016  Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit ... includes integrating Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution ... will result in greater convenience for SACU members ... maintaining existing document workflow and compliance requirements. ... Highlights: ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... UAS LifeSciences, ... launch of their brand, UP4™ Probiotics, into Target stores nationwide. The company, which ... to add Target to its list of well-respected retailers. This list includes such ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- A person commits a crime, and the detective uses ... criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne illness makes ... uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria that caused ... not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, cutting-edge technology ... Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing is a ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  The Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is ... treatments and faster cures for prostate cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 ... countries. Read More About the Class of 2016 PCF ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, ... of the Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design ... of how hardware projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The ...
Breaking Biology Technology: