Individual differences in capacity for absorption and feedback condition with chronic pain patients

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Committee Member

Carolyn S. Garwood - Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of individual differences in capacity for absorption on the use of temperature biofeedback with chronic pain patients.Subjects were 48 chronic pain patients from the inpatient population at the Comprehensive Pain and Rehabilitation Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine. They were administered the Tellegan Capacity for Absorption Scale upon admission, and were then divided into high and low absorbers. They were then assigned randomly to one of three treatment groups; condition A--feedback condition; condition B--no feedback, and condition C--no feedback and the completion of a task.The subjects went through an initial five minute baseline measurement. The measurement of this baseline period was the first valve-last valve of the subjects' peripheral blood flow. This measurement served as the covariate to control for initial differences. The subjects then had three sessions of 15 minutes of temperature biofeedback training in one of the three conditions previously mentioned. On the fifth and final session the first valve-last valve of the subjects' peripheral blood flow was measured and this served as the dependent variable.Subjective ratings of patients' pain level, pain interferences in learning and ability to concentrate during the three training sessions were evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10. In the final session, subjects' confidence, receptivity and subjective relaxation were also rated on a 0 to 10 scale pre and post treatment.A 2 x 3 ANCOVA design was used to determine the effects of level of absorption and feedback condition. A T-test was computed to examine the effects of sex and Pearson product moment correlations were computed to ascertain the extent of relationships between the various subjective self-report ratings.The findings indicated: (1) no difference between absorption level and feedback condition, (2) that females were able to increase their peripheral blood flow more than males, (3) private insurance subjects were able to increase their peripheral blood flow more than Workers' Compensation subjects, (4) subjects' pain level interfering with learning was positively correlated with their ability to raise their peripheral blood flow, (5) subjects receptivity to biofeedback was positively correlated with their confidence in their ability to increase their peripheral blood flow.


Psychology, Physiological

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