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Title: Threat processing in fibromyalgia
Author: Roberts, Marianne
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis considers recent advances in the conceptualisation of pain and in particular, the contribution of Neuromatrix theory (Melzack 1990, 1999,2005), which implicates threat processing biases in the aetiology and maintenance of chronic pain. Fibromyalgia is presented as a condition that can particularly benefit from this understanding. Guided by research into threat processing biases in anxiety, the literature on attentional bias to threat in chronic pain and fibromyalgia is reviewed, with special emphasis on the Stroop and visual probe paradigms. This highlights that a number of chronic pain conditions might be associated with attentional bias to pain. related threat; however the literature is inconsistent and there is a dearth of research using fibromyalgia samples. The limited research that has used pure fibromyalgia sample indicates that fibromyalgia might be associated with a generalised, rather than pain/disorder-specific, threat bias. Thus, an empirical study is also presented, that aims to establish whether fibromyalgia is associated with attentional bias to threat, as a method of gaining insight into possible, broader threat processing abnormalities. Visual probe methodology was used to test selective attention to generalised threat words in a sample of 34 fibromyalgia patients and healthy controls. Results showed a trend towards an interaction between group and the measures of attentional bias, with evidence that this related to hypervigilance to threat in the fibromyalgia group. This trend did not reach statistical significance (p = .090). There was no further evidence of attentional bias. Further research is needed in order to establish the reliability of these findings and address issues of low power, however the potential that results may be meaningful provides great scope for achieving new insight into fibromyalgia.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available