The association between anger expression and chronic pain intensity: evidence for partial mediation by endogenous opioid dysfunction.

Bruehl S, Chung OY, Burns JW, Biridepalli S
Pain. 2003 106 (3): 317-324

PMID: 14659514 · DOI:10.1016/S0304-3959(03)00319-1

Recent work suggests that an expressive anger management style (anger-out) is associated with elevated acute pain sensitivity due to endogenous opioid antinociceptive dysfunction. We tested the hypothesis that this opioid dysfunction mediates the previously reported positive association between anger-out and chronic pain intensity. To assess endogenous opioid antinociception in the laboratory, 71 subjects with chronic low back pain received opioid blockade (8 mg naloxone i.v.) or placebo in counterbalanced order in separate sessions. During each, subjects participated in a 1-min finger pressure pain task followed by an ischemic forearm pain task, providing acute pain ratings on the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form (MPQ) immediately following each task. Subjects also completed a 7-day chronic pain diary based on the MPQ between laboratory sessions. To index opioid antinociceptive function, blockade effects were derived, subtracting placebo from blockade condition pain ratings. Greater anger-out was associated with both smaller blockade effects (suggesting impaired opioid antinociception) and greater chronic pain intensity, and blockade effects were inversely associated with chronic pain intensity. Sequential hierarchical regressions suggested that opioid dysfunction partially mediates the positive association between anger-out and total MPQ chronic pain intensity. Inclusion of blockade effects in the first step of the regression resulted in a decrease from 7 to 3% in chronic pain variance accounted for by anger-out. Opioid dysfunction did not mediate the positive association between anger-in and chronic pain. These results provide preliminary support for the hypothesis that the positive association between anger expression and chronic pain intensity is mediated by opioid antinociceptive system dysfunction.

MeSH Terms (13)

Adult Anger Chronic Disease Cross-Over Studies Double-Blind Method Female Humans Low Back Pain Male Naloxone Opioid Peptides Pain Measurement Regression Analysis

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