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Higher Optimism Predicts Lower Pain Reduction

J Pain; ePub 2018 Sep 13; Hinkle, Quiton

In a conditioned pain modulation (CPM) paradigm, greater optimism predicted less inhibition of suprathreshold pain, a new study found. 77 healthy adults completed a test of optimism as well as measures of depression, pain catastrophizing, and neuroticism. They also underwent psychophysical tests of heat pain tolerance, heat pain threshold, and CPM. CPM magnitude was calculated as the change in heat tolerance, heat pain threshold, and CPM. Researchers found:

  • Greater optimism was significantly correlated with reduced CPM magnitude.
  • Optimism effects on modulation of threshold-level and suprathreshold pain differed.
  • Stress and coping mechanisms may influence modulation of suprathreshold pain.
  • Optimism may affect endogenous CNS inhibition of clinical pain.
  • Significant positive coefficients were found for depression and optimism.


Hinkle CE, Quiton RL. Higher dispositional optimism predicts lower pain reduction during conditioned pain modulation. [Published online ahead of print September 13, 2018]. J Pain. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2018.08.006.

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