Masedo & Esteve, 2007

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APA Citation: 

Masedo, A. I., & Esteve, M. R. (2007). Effects of suppression, acceptance and spontaneous coping on pain tolerance, pain intensity and distress. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 45, 199-209.

Publication Topic: 
ACT: Empirical
Publication Type: 
Suppression; Experimental pain; Acceptance; Cognitive control

Wegner’s Theory of Ironic Processes has been applied to study the effects of cognitive strategies to control pain. Research suggests that suppression contributes to a more distressing pain experience. Recently, the acceptance-based approach has been proposed as an alternative to cognitive control. This study assessed the tolerance time, the distress and the perceived pain intensity in three groups (suppression, acceptance and spontaneous coping groups) when the participants were exposed to a cold pressor procedure. Two hundred and nineteen undergraduates volunteered to participate. The suppression group showed the shortest tolerance time and the acceptance group showed the longest tolerance time. The acceptance group showed pain and distress immersion ratings that were significantly lower than in the other two groups, between which the differences were not significant. In the first recovery period, the suppression group showed pain and distress ratings that were higher than in the other two groups. In the second recovery period, although the acceptance group showed pain and distress ratings that were significantly lower than in the other two groups, the suppression and the spontaneous coping groups did not differ. The presence of a ‘rebound’ of physical discomfort and the effects of suppression on behavioural avoidance are discussed. These results support the acceptance approach in the management of pain.

A large and well-controlled randomized study that replicated Hayes, Bissett, Korn, Zettle, Rosenfarb, Cooper, & Grundt, 1999. Acceptance methods drawn from the 1999 ACT book and from the Hayes et al. 1999 pain study (the methods used included an acceptance rationale, practicing awareness of experience, the "Passengers on the Bus" exercise, and the "Two Scales Metaphor") increased pain tolerance and decreased pain ratings in a cold pressor task as compared both to suppression methods (based on thought stopping) and to participants preferred method of coping (which tended to include distraction, relaxation, and keeping the hand still). The latter two conditions did not differ from each other in the main analysis.
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