Relationship of ethnicity, gender, and ambulatory blood pressure to pain sensitivity: effects of individualized pain rating scales.
UNLABELLED: A growing literature has reported significant reductions in pain sensitivity associated with increasing levels of blood pressure. However, most of this research has been limited to casual blood pressure assessments in white men. The present study examined associations between pain reports and ambulatory blood pressure in a sample of African American and white men and women. Possible response bias during pain assessment due to ethnicity and gender was evaluated with individualized pain rating scales. One hundred thirty-five (72 African American and 63 white) men and women underwent 24-hour blood pressure monitoring and arm ischemia pain sensitivity evaluation with both standard verbal rating scales and individually ordered verbal rating scales of intensity and unpleasantness. Lower individualized pain intensity and unpleasantness ratings were associated with higher levels of ambulatory blood pressure. African Americans and women reported higher levels of pain intensity when using the standard verbal rating scale but not when using the individually ordered rating scale. Collectively, these results support previous research relating reduced pain sensitivity with increased blood pressure among men and women. Furthermore, reported differences in pain sensitivity between ethnic groups and genders might in part be associated with variations in response styles to standard pain assessment tools. PERSPECTIVE: The findings of the present study suggest that, in some instances, different ethnic groups and genders may use the same descriptors to report different levels of pain. In the context of clinical pain assessment, it may be important to consider the possibility that descriptions of painful sensations reflect, in part, demographic characteristics.
Campbell, TS; Hughes, JW; Girdler, SS; Maixner, W; Sherwood, A
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