The effects of menstrual-related pain on attentional interference

E. Keogh, R. Cavill, D.J. Moore, C. Eccleston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)
198 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Pain-related attentional interference has been found in both chronic pain and laboratory-inducted pain settings. However, few studies have examined such interference effects during common everyday painful episodes. Menstrual cycle-related pain is a common pain that affects a large number of women on a regular basis. The purpose of the current study was, therefore, to examine the effects of menstrual pain on attentional interference. Fifty-two healthy adult women were tested during 2 different phases of their menstrual cycles: once during a nonpain phase (mid follicular), and once while experiencing menstrual pain (late luteal/early follicular). On each testing session, participants received a battery of 4 attentional interference tasks that included selective attention (flanker task), attention span (n-back task), attentional switching (switching task), and divided attention (dual task). Greater attentional interference effects were found to occur during the menstrual pain phase compared to the nonpain phase. Interestingly, the nature of this effect was a general worsening in performance (eg, slowing, less accurate), rather than a specific attentional deficit. These results add to a growing literature that generally indicates that attentional interference occurs across a range of different types of pain, including common painful episodes. However, they also highlight that the specific nature of this interference effect may depend on the type pain under consideration. Implications of these findings are also considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-827
Number of pages7
JournalPain
Volume155
Issue number4
Early online date29 Jan 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014

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