Comparison of Pain Interventions: Distraction Versus Acceptance

Date of Graduation

Summer 2005


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

Ann Rost


Lab based paradigms have been utilized to investigate the efficacy of psychological interventions for pain management. Both visual distraction and acceptance interventions have demonstrated efficacy in acute laboratory settings. However, individuals suffering from recurrent headache (HA) may respond differently to acute pain than individuals who do not have a history of chronic pain. The current study investigated the efficacy of two psychologically different pain management strategies with individuals who either suffer from recurrent HA or do not have a history of chronic pain. Participants were 69 students who were recruited from introductory psychology courses. The findings from the primary analyses suggest that individuals who received training in visual distracted demonstrated significantly increased pain threshold when compared to individuals in the acceptance condition (p < .05). No significant main effects of treatment were observed regarding pain tolerance or subjective pain ratings. Exploratory analyses suggest that individuals who suffer from recurrent HA may demonstrate greater increases in pain threshold after receiving training in visual distraction as compared to individuals without a history of chronic pain. Future studies should investigate these research implications regarding the efficacy of psychological pain management strategies in broader contexts.


headache, pain management, lab-based paradigms, cold pressor task, ACT, distraction

Subject Categories



© Mikaela J. Hildebrandt