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The role of coping and race in healthy children's experimental pain responses
journal contributionposted on 2008-01-01, 00:00 authored by Subhadra EvansSubhadra Evans, Q Lu, J C I Tsao, L K Zelter
This study examined the relationship between race, laboratory-based coping strategies and anticipatory anxiety and pain intensity for cold, thermal (heat) and pressure experimental pain tasks. Participants were 123 healthy children and adolescents, including 33 African Americans (51% female; mean age =13.9 years) and 90 Caucasians (50% female; mean age = 12.6 years). Coping in response to the cold task was assessed with the Lab Coping Style interview; based on their interview responses, participants were categorized as 'attenders' (i.e., those who focused on the task) vs. 'distractors' (i.e., those who distracted themselves during the task). Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) revealed significant interactions between race (African-American vs. Caucasian) and lab-based coping style after controlling for sex, age and socioeconomic status. African-American children classified as attenders reported less anticipatory anxiety for the cold task and lower pain intensity for the cold, heat and pressure tasks compared to those categorized as distractors. For these pain outcomes, Caucasian children classified as distractors reported less anticipatory anxiety and lower pain intensity relative to those categorized as attenders. The findings point to the moderating effect of coping in the relationship between race and experimental pain sensitivity.