Implicit affective evaluation of somatosensory sensations in patients with noncardiac chest pain

Professorship/Faculty: Lehrstuhl für Klinische Psychologie/Psychotherapie ; Professur für Pathopsychologie 
Author(s): Schroeder, Stefanie; Gerlach, Alexander L.; Martin, Alexandra
Pages / Size: 381 - 388
Title of the Journal: Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry : an interdisciplinary journal
Language(s): English
ISSN: 0005-7916
Publisher Information: Amsterdam [u.a.]
Volume: 45
Issue: 3
Publisher Information: Elsevier
Year of publication: 2014
Background and objectives

Etiological models of noncardiac chest pain (NCCP) stress the importance of abnormal implicit affective evaluations of somatosensory sensations, but this has never been studied empirically. The aim was therefore to assess implicit affective evaluations of somatosensory stimuli in NCCP using an experimental design.

A total of 34 patients with NCCP, 24 patients with cardiac chest pain, and 46 healthy controls, took part in the study. Participants completed a tactile modification of the Affect Misattribution Procedure (tAMP) and answered self-report measures on anxiety sensitivity, somatosensory amplification, and somatic symptom distress.

A 3 × 3-ANOVA revealed that most negative judgments were found in the aversive condition, but this effect was not specific to patients with NCCP. Anxiety sensitivity was positively associated with negative implicit evaluations of aversive tactile stimuli in the tAMP.

The task seemed to be too difficult for older participants. Also, future studies should apply clinically more relevant, e.g., heart related, stimuli that are more ecologically valid than the electrical stimulation of the finger used as a proxy for aversive somatosensory sensations here.

Against theoretical assumptions, patients with NCCP do not seem to show a stronger implicit negative interpretation bias concerning somatosensory sensations in comparison to patients either with cardiac chest pain, or without chest pain. Nevertheless, anxiety sensitivity seems to contribute significantly to implicit affective interpretations of somatic sensations. Further studies are required investigating the relevance of implicit interpretative processes for the course of NCCP and distressing somatic symptoms in general.
Keywords: Noncardiac chest pain, Implicit affective interpretation, Somatosensory sensations, Tactile affect misattribution procedure
Peer Reviewed: Ja
International Distribution: Ja
Document Type: Article
Release date: 23. February 2016

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