Coping with the stress of a painful medical procedure

J. A. Fauerbach, J. W. Lawrence, J. A. Haythornthwaite, L. Richter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To evaluate its effect on procedure-related distress, the focus of attention was manipulated by providing training to hospitalized acute burn patients (n=42). Participants were randomly assigned to attention focusing (i.e. attending to procedural sensations) or music distraction (i.e. attention diverting) coping interventions, or to usual care during the target dressing change. Coping behavior (i.e. distraction, focusing, and three confounding methods, ignoring, catastrophizing, reinterpreting), tension and intrusiveness were evaluated 24h retrospectively (i.e. for the prior procedure), during the targeted procedure, and 30min after the target procedure. When coping during the target procedure by ignoring, reinterpreting, and catastrophizing were covaried, the music distraction group experienced significantly fewer intrusions, and the attention focus group had more intrusions. Additionally, secondary analyses revealed that coping by ignoring during the prior day's procedure significantly predicted higher procedural tension during, and more intrusions following, the targeted procedure. Suppression-based forms of emotion-focused coping may be enhanced by training in the use of an explicit distractor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1015
Number of pages13
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Coping
  • Distress
  • Mental control
  • Painful procedure
  • Suppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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