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Measuring Pain Essay

6734 words - 27 pages

Measuring Pain
1. 1. Sensory - intensity, duration, threshold, tolerance, location,
etc

2. 2. Neurophysiological - brainwave activity, heart rate, etc

3. 3. Emotional and motivational - anxiety, anger, depression,
resentment, etc

4. 4. Behavioural - avoidance of exercise, pain complaints, etc

5. 5. Impact on lifestyle - marital distress, changes in sexual
behaviour

6. 6. Information processing - problem solving skills, coping
styles, health beliefs

Techniques used to collect data.
--------------------------------

1. 1. interviews - advantage - it can cover Karoly's 6 points

2. 2. behavioural observations

3. 3. psychometric measures

4. 4. medical records

5. 5. physiological measures

Physiological measures of pain

Muscle tension is associated with painful conditions such as headaches
and lower backache, and it can be measured using an electromyograph
(EMG). This apparatus measures electrical activity in the muscles,
which is a sign of how tense they are. Some link has been established
between headaches and EMG patterns, but EMG recordings do not
generally correlate with pain perception (Chapman et al 1985) and EMG
measurements have not been shown to be a useful way of measuring pain.

Another approach has been to relate pain to autonomic arousal. By
taking measures of pulse rate, skin conductance and skin temperature,
it may be possible to measure the physiological arousal caused by
experiencing pain. Finally, since pain is perceived within the brain,
it may he possible to measure brain activity, using an
electroencephalograph (EEG), in order to determine the extent to which
an individual is experiencing pain. It has been shown that subjective
reports of pain do correlate with electrical changes that show up as
peaks in EEG recordings. Moreover, when analgesics are given, both
pain report and waveform amplitude on the EEG are decreased (Chapman
et al, 1985).

Evaluation

The advantage of the physiological measures of pain described above is
that they are objective (that is, not subject to bias by the person
whose pain is being measured, or by the person measuring the pain). On
the other hand, they involve the use of expensive machinery and
trained personnel. Their main disadvantage, however, is that they are
not valid (that is, they do not measure what they say they are
measuring). For example, autonomic arousal can occur in the absence of
pain — being wired up to a machine may be stressful and can cause a
person’s heart rate to increase. If someone is very anxious about the
process of having his or her pain assessed, or else is worried about
the meaning of the pain, this will cause physiological changes not
necessarily related to the intensity of...

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