Pain catastrophizing may moderate the association between pain and secondary hyperalgesia

Alexander J. Pressman, B. Lee Peterlin, David Andrew Tompkins, Rachel E. Salas, Luis F. Buenaver, Jennifer A. Haythornthwaite, Claudia M. Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Catastrophizing, a persistent negative mental set characterized by helplessness, rumination, and magnification of pain sensations, has a potent effect on pain report and clinical outcomes. Previous studies have documented an association between cognitive factors and central sensitization. The current analysis sought to test the potential modulating effect of pain catastrophizing on the association between capsaicin pain and the region of secondary hyperalgesia. Thirty-eight healthy individuals (50% women, mean age = 25.7, SD = 5.3) completed the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), then underwent topical application of 10% capsaicin, which was covered by a thermode maintained at 40°C for 90-min. Following removal of the capsaicin, the region of secondary hyperalgesia was determined. Hayes’ PROCESS macro was employed to examine catastrophizing's potential moderating effect, which did not reveal a significant association between capsaicin pain ratings and the region of secondary hyperalgesia (β = 15.1, p =.06). Though PCS was not associated with area of secondary hyperalgesia (β = 23.9, p =.29), a significant interaction was present between PCS and capsaicin pain ratings (β = 3.7, p =.0004). Specifically, those endorsing higher catastrophizing levels and higher pain ratings experienced the greatest areas of secondary hyperalgesia. The Johnson-Neyman technique was used to determine the regional effect of the moderation, which indicated that when PCS scores were ≥10.6, capsaicin pain significantly moderated the association between pain and area of secondary hyperalgesia. These results suggest that catastrophizing plays an important role in the area of secondary hyperalgesia, and potentially central sensitization, warranting further testing in future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12096
JournalJournal of Applied Biobehavioral Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • capsaicin
  • catastrophizing
  • central sensitization
  • pain
  • secondary hyperalgesia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Pain catastrophizing may moderate the association between pain and secondary hyperalgesia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this