While factors contributing to between-subjects differences in pain have been studied extensively, factors contributing to the within-subjects variability of pain reports are yet unexplored. The aim of this investigation was to assess possible associations between short-term memory and the within-subjects variability of pain reports in healthy and chronic pain patients. Healthy participants were recruited at the University of Haifa, Israel, and Fibromyalgia patients were recruited at a rheumatology department in a central hospital in Lisbon, Portugal. Following consent, both cohorts underwent the same procedures, including the digit-span test, assessing short-term memory, and the FAST procedure, assessing within-subject variability of pain intensity reports in response to experimental pain. One-hundred twenty-one healthy volunteers and 29 Fibromyalgia patients completed the study. While a significant correlation was found between the within-subjects variability and the total score of the short-term memory task (Spearman’s r = 0.394, P = 0.046) in the Fibromyalgia group, a marginal correlation emerged in the healthy cohort (r = 0.174, P = 0.056). A possible interpretation of these results is that in the patients’ group, at least some of the within-subjects variability of pain intensity reports might be due to error measurement derived by poorer short-term memory, rather than true fluctuations in perception.
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Copyright: © 2022 Canaipa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
- Pain Measurement/methods
- Memory, Short-Term
- Chronic Pain
- Health Status
ASJC Scopus subject areas