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      Effect of a perspective-taking intervention on the consideration of pain assessment and treatment decisions

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          Pain is often poorly managed, highlighting the need to better understand and treat patients’ pain. Research suggests that pain is assessed and treated differently depending on patient sex, race, and/or age. Perspective-taking, whereby one envisions the perspective of another, has been found to reduce racial disparities in pain management. This study used virtual human (VH) technology to examine whether a perspective-taking intervention impacts pain management decisions.


          Ninety-six participants were randomized to an online treatment or control group and viewed 16 video clips of VHs with standardized levels of pain. Participants provided ratings on the VHs’ pain intensity and their willingness to administer opioids to them. The intervention group received a brief perspective-taking intervention that consisted of having participants imagine how the patient’s suffering could affect his/her life, whereas the control group was asked to wait for the next VH videos to load. A LENS model analysis was used to investigate both group level (nomothetic) and individual level (idiographic) decision policies. A LENS model of analysis is typically used as an analog method for capturing how groups of people and individuals use information in their environment to form judgments.


          Nomothetic results found that participants rated pain higher and were more likely to prescribe opioids to VHs postintervention, irrespective of group. Idiographic results, however, found that the use of cues to make pain management decisions was mitigated by the perspective-taking group. The participants in the perspective-taking group were more likely to think about pain and the patients’ perspective during the intervention, while control participants were more likely to reflect on the VHs’ sex, race, or age.


          A brief intervention may alter participants’ pain management decisions. These results indicate that a brief intervention might be an initial step toward aligning observers’ pain management ratings with those of the patient. Future research is needed to replicate findings in a health care population.

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          Most cited references 23

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          Trends in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity for patients seeking care in US emergency departments.

          National quality improvement initiatives implemented in the late 1990s were followed by substantial increases in opioid prescribing in the United States, but it is unknown whether opioid prescribing for treatment of pain in the emergency department has increased and whether differences in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity have decreased. To determine whether opioid prescribing in emergency departments has increased, whether non-Hispanic white patients are more likely to receive an opioid than other racial/ethnic groups, and whether differential prescribing by race/ethnicity has diminished since 2000. Pain-related visits to US emergency departments were identified using reason-for-visit and physician diagnosis codes from 13 years (1993-2005) of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Prescription of an opioid analgesic. Pain-related visits accounted for 156 729 of 374 891 (42%) emergency department visits. Opioid prescribing for pain-related visits increased from 23% (95% confidence interval [CI], 21%-24%) in 1993 to 37% (95% CI, 34%-39%) in 2005 (P < .001 for trend), and this trend was more pronounced in 2001-2005 (P = .02). Over all years, white patients with pain were more likely to receive an opioid (31%) than black (23%), Hispanic (24%), or Asian/other patients (28%) (P < .001 for trend), and differences did not diminish over time (P = .44), with opioid prescribing rates of 40% for white patients and 32% for all other patients in 2005. Differential prescribing by race/ethnicity was evident for all types of pain visits, was more pronounced with increasing pain severity, and was detectable for long-bone fracture and nephrolithiasis as well as among children. Statistical adjustment for pain severity and other factors did not substantially attenuate these differences, with white patients remaining significantly more likely to receive an opioid prescription than black patients (adjusted odds ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.62-0.70), Hispanic patients (0.67; 95% CI, 0.63-0.72), and Asian/other patients (0.79; 95% CI, 0.67-0.93). Opioid prescribing for patients making a pain-related visit to the emergency department increased after national quality improvement initiatives in the late 1990s, but differences in opioid prescribing by race/ethnicity have not diminished.
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            Gender role expectations of pain: relationship to sex differences in pain.

            Empirical research supports the existence of sex differences in pain; yet these differences are poorly understood. Although biological mechanisms have been posited to explain variability, results of pain modeling manipulations suggest social learning may be a stronger influence on pain response. In this report we use the term sex to refer to the biological category of male or female. We use the term gender to refer to the socially acquired aspects of being male or female sometimes referred to as femininity and masculinity. This study investigated a new measure, the Gender Role Expectations of Pain questionnaire (GREP), which was designed to measure sex-related stereotypic attributions of pain sensitivity, endurance, and willingness to report pain. Subjects were 156 male and 235 female undergraduates at a southeastern university. Psychometric investigation of the questionnaire revealed a 5-factor solution that closely mirrored the theoretical construction of the items. Test-retest reliability was also shown for individual items on a separate sample of 28 subjects. Results supported hypotheses about gender role: both men and women rated men as less willing to report pain than women (F(1,389) = 336, P <.001); both men and women rated women more sensitive (F(1,389) = 9.5, P <.05) and less enduring of pain (F(1,389) = 65.7, P <.001) than men; and men rated their own endurance as higher than the typical man (F(1,389) = 65.7, P <.001). Sex accounted for 46% of the variance in willingness to report pain. Results suggest that the GREP distinguished between the socially learned reactions to pain for men and women. It is recommended that the influence of gender-related expectations for pain be assessed in all studies investigating human sex differences in pain.
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              The perception of pain in others: how gender, race, and age influence pain expectations.

              Sex, race/ethnic, and age differences in pain have been reported in clinical and experimental research. Gender role expectations have partly explained the variability in sex differences in pain, and the Gender Role Expectations of Pain questionnaire (GREP) was developed to measure sex-related stereotypic attributions about pain. It is hypothesized that similar expectations exist for age- and race-related pain decisions. This study investigated new measures of race/ethnic- and age-related stereotypic attributions of pain sensitivity and willingness to report pain, and examined the psychometric properties of a modified GREP. Participants completed the Race/Ethnicity Expectations of Pain questionnaire, Age Expectations of Pain questionnaire, and modified GREP. Results revealed a 3-factor solution to the race/ethnicity questionnaire and a 2-factor solution to the age questionnaire, consistent with theoretical construction of the items. Results revealed a 4-factor solution to the modified GREP that differed from the original GREP and theoretical construction of the items. Participants' pain-related stereotypic attributions differed across racial/ethnic, age, and gender groups. These findings provide psychometric support for the measures examined herein and suggest that stereotypic attributions of pain in others differ across demographic categories. Future work can refine the measures and examine whether select demographic variables influence pain perception, assessment, and/or treatment. The findings suggest that one's expectations of the pain experience of another person are influenced by the stereotypes one has about different genders, races, and ages. The 3 pain expectation measures investigated in the current study could be used in future work examining biases in pain assessment and treatment. Copyright © 2012 American Pain Society. All rights reserved.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                11 November 2015
                : 8
                : 809-818
                [1 ]Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
                [2 ]Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
                [3 ]Department of Physical Therapy, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Michael E Robinson, University of Florida, 101 South Newell Drive, Gainesville, FL 32610-9165, USA, Tel +1 325 273 5220, Fax +1 352 273 6156, Email merobin@ 123456ufl.edu
                © 2015 Wandner et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Anesthesiology & Pain management

                pain management, perspective taking, virtual technology


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