En Pointe: Dancers Report Their Pain Less Variably Than Do Controls

Rita Canaipa, Diogo Mendonça, Mariana Agostinho, Vanda Nascimento, Liat Honigman, Roi Treister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The subjective nature of pain and the lack of a gold standard for objective measurement hinders effective assessment, diagnosis, and treatment. Some individuals, such as professional dancers, are better in assessing and reporting bodily sensations. This observational study aimed to assess whether dancers report their pain less variably, than other people do. After consenting, subjects completed the focused analgesia selection test (FAST), which assesses subjects’ variability of pain reports. FAST outcomes, ICC and R2 reflect the magnitude of variability of pain reports observed. In addition, subjects underwent a taste task, which similarly assesses variability of tastes (salty and sweet) intensity reports and completed the Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness questionnaire. Thirty-three professional dancers and 33 healthy aged-matched controls were recruited. The dancers exhibited less variability of pain reports then controls (P =.013), but not in case of tastes-reports. Years of practice was positively correlated with pain reporting variability (r =.447, P =.009, and r =.380, P =.029; for FAST ICC and R2, respectively). Multidimensional Assessment of Interoceptive Awareness subscores correlated with pain reporting variability: R2 and ICC with emotional awareness (r =.260, P =.040, and r =.274, P =.030, respectively), and R2 with trusting [r =.254, P =.044]). Perspective: The difference between dancers and controls in the magnitude of variability of pain reports is probably due to the dancers’ extensive training, which focuses on attention to body signals. Our results suggest that training can improve subjective pain reports, which are essential for quality clinical care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-105
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 United States Association for the Study of Pain, Inc.


  • Pain intensity
  • athletes
  • interoception
  • pain assessment
  • pain variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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