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Pain Research and Management
Volume 16 (2011), Issue 1, Pages 41-43
Original Article

Emotional and Neurobehavioural Status in Chronic Pain Patients

He Shuchang,1 He Mingwei,2 Jia Hongxiao,3 Wu Si,1 Yang Xing,1 Daniel Antonius,4 and Mark GA Opler4

1Department of Psychology, Peking University, China
2Pain Clinic of Xuanwu Hospital, Capital Medical University, China
3Beijing Anding Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China
4Department of Psychiatry, Institute for Social and Psychiatric Initiatives (InSPIRES), New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York, USA

Copyright © 2011 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the emotional and neurobehavioural status of patients suffering from chronic pain.

METHODS: Fifteen male patients with chronic lower back pain and 15 healthy control subjects were studied for approximately six months. Pain was measured using a visual analogue scale. The WHO Neurobehavioral Core Test Battery (NCTB) was used to assess neurobehavioural effects of environmental and occupational exposures.

RESULTS: Visual analogue scale results demonstrated a modest range of reported pain (mean [± SD] 62.0±10.8) in chronic pain patients, whereas control subjects reported no measurable pain. With the NCTB, it was found that scores of negative mood state, including anger-hostility, depression-dejection, fatigue-inertia and tension-anxiety in pain patients were significantly higher than scores in the control subjects. By contrast, scores of positive mood state (vigour-activity) in chronic pain patients were lower than those in the control group. The NCTB scores of the Santa Ana Dexterity and Pursuit Aiming II tests in chronic lower back pain patients were lower than those of the control group. Scores for other NCTB sub-tests, including the Digit Span, Benton Visual Retention and Digit Symbol tests, were not significantly different compared with controls.

CONCLUSIONS: Chronic lower back pain patients had more negative mood and less positive mood than controls. These patients also demonstrated neuromotor deficits in coordination and reaction time. Further studies are required to examine possible neurological mechanisms and research potential intervention strategies for patients suffering from chronic pain.