The impact of acute pain self-efficacy on pain intensity and the accurate recall of pain
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Submission date: 2017-05-30
Final revision date: 2017-08-14
Acceptance date: 2017-08-19
Online publication date: 2017-12-14
Publication date: 2017-12-14
Health Psychology Report 2018;6(2):136-145
Pain self-efficacy is one’s belief in the ability to control and persist through pain. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between pain self-efficacy, immediate and delayed pain ratings, and accurate pain recall two weeks after an acute pain procedure.

Participants and procedure:
Two hundred three participants completed a tourniquet pain procedure. Pain self-efficacy was measured. An immediate pain rating was collected immediately following the procedure. A delayed pain rating was assessed in a two-week follow-up survey. Accurate pain recall was assessed by examining the difference between participants’ immediate pain rating and their delayed pain rating.

Higher levels of pain self-efficacy were related to lower delayed pain rating two weeks later but not related to immediate pain ratings. Participants with higher pain self-efficacy were significantly more likely to underestimate their pain two weeks later than participants with lower pain self-efficacy, who tended to overestimate their previous pain.

This research highlights the important role of pain self-efficacy on the recall of pain. Those with higher pain self-efficacy were more likely to underestimate their pain two weeks later, while those with lower pain self-efficacy tended to overestimate their previous pain. Healthcare providers and caregivers should consider patients’ pain self-efficacy in interpreting reports of pain, especially when these reports recall past pain.

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