Having Romantic Partners Around During Painful Procedures May Make Things Worse

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Pain felt by 39 women given  laser pulses on their fingers was not reduced by the presence of  a romantic partner, rather, the pain have actually felt worse, according to a recently published study. This effect was noted even more in women who "avoided closeness in their relationships."

“We were interested in the role of individuals’ patterns of seeking or avoiding closeness in their relationships,” lead author Dr. Charlotte Krahé of the King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, wrote in a press release. “We wanted to test whether this personality construct, termed attachment style, might determine whether partner support decreases or heightens the experience of pain.”

The researchers measured how the electrical activity in the patient's brains spiked in response to the laser pulses, to examine the relation between pain reports and brain activity. Each woman also completed a questionnaire to measure the extent to which she either sought or avoided ‘closeness’, emotional intimacy, in relationships.*

The study found that the more avoidant participants were of closeness in their relationships, the more pain they experienced when their romantic partner was present. This was seen both in the pain ratings that participants recorded and in their brain activity. The presence of a partner had no significant effect, good or bad, on the pain felt by women who sought closeness in relationships.

Having Romantic Partners Around During Painful Procedures May Make Things Worse
Having a romantic partner around for a patient during some types of therapy may not be as beneficial as previously thought.
A study involving 39 couples has found that having a romantic partner in the room during a painful medical procedure may actually make the patient feel worse, particularly in women.
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