A psychophysiological analysis of spouse solicitousness towards pain behaviors, spouse interaction, and pain perception

Herta Flor, Caterina Breitenstein, Niels Birbaumer, Michael Fürst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship of marital interaction and spouse solicitousness to the perception of acute pain stimuli and psychophysiological reactivity. Seventeen chronic back pain patients and fifteen matched healthy controls and their significant others participated in two cold pressor tests (one in the presence, one in the absence of the spouse) and both a neutral and a conflictual verbal interaction. Higher levels of solicitousness of the spouses were related to higher pain perception in the spouse present condition for the patients only. Lumbar muscular reactivity was generally elevated for the patients during the conflictual interaction. The interaction of the patients' spouses was characterized by more acceptance and agreement than that of the healthy controls' spouses; patients with highly solicitous spouses showed less direct expression than those with low solicitous spouses. These data suggest that spouse solicitousness is associated with heightened pain perception in chronic pain patients, muscular reactvity seems to be related to patient status only.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-272
Number of pages18
JournalBehavior Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1995


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

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