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Comparisons of Catastrophizing, Pain Attitudes, and Cold-Pressor Pain Experience Between Chinese and European Canadian Young Adults

      Abstract

      Experimental pain research indicates ethnic differences in pain experience. Most of the cross-cultural pain research studied African Americans and Hispanics with little data available for Asian groups. This study examined differences in pain catastrophizing, pain attitudes, and pain responses between Chinese and European Canadian young adults. Prior to completing a cold-pressor (CP) task, 80 Chinese and 80 European Canadian undergraduate students were administered measures of pain catastrophizing and pain attitudes, including stoicism and cautiousness. Pain threshold, pain tolerance, and pain intensity were measured during the CP task. The Short Form-McGill Pain Questionnaire was administered immediately postimmersion to measure sensory and affective pain. While there was no group difference in pain threshold and pain intensity, Chinese participants displayed lower pain tolerance and reported higher SF-MPQ-Affective than European Canadians. Regarding psychological variables, there was no difference in stoicism and cautiousness between groups, but Chinese participants reported greater pain catastrophizing. Mediational analysis indicated that pain catastrophizing mediated the group differences in SF-MPQ-Affective score. The implications of the findings and future research were discussed.

      Perspective

      The study found ethnic differences in cold-pressor responses, in which Chinese undergraduates reported higher levels of pain compared to their Euro-Canadian counterparts. The finding that pain catastrophizing mediated the ethnic difference in SF-MPQ-Affective scores indicated the importance of examining the role of catastrophizing in pain reports from Chinese and Euro-Canadian patients.

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