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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Thompson 2016.

Is Pain Perception Altered in People With Depression? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Experimental Pain Research

updated
Thompson T, Correll CU, Gallop K, Vancampfort D, Stubbs B. Is Pain Perception Altered in People With Depression? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Experimental Pain Research. J Pain. 2016 Dec;17(12):1257–1272. PubMed #27589910.
Tags: chronic pain, mind, pain problems

PainSci summary of Thompson 2016?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

Although “clinical studies suggest depressed patients may be more vulnerable to pain,” it’s far from proven. It’s not clear, and it still isn’t after this meta-analysis of 32 studies. The only real finding here was that there’s so much variety in the results of studies that “it depends” in a big way, on many variables.

This analysis actually found that in some ways depressed patients were less vulnerable to pain — a “small but significant” higher mean sensory threshold and pain threshold — which is interesting but probably not meaningful, given the complexity of the data.

~ Paul Ingraham

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Although clinical studies suggest depressed patients may be more vulnerable to pain, experimental research is equivocal. This meta-analysis aimed to clarify whether depression is associated with altered pain perception in response to noxious stimulation and to identify factors that might influence this association. A search of major electronic databases was conducted to identify experimental studies investigating pain response in depressed participants versus healthy control participants using established pain outcome measures. Random effects meta-analysis of standardized mean differences was conducted on data from 32 studies (N = 1,317). For high-intensity noxious stimulation, overall pain tolerance was similar across depressed and control groups (Hedges g = .09, P = .71, studies = 10). For low-intensity stimulation, a small, but statistically significant higher mean sensory threshold (g = .35, P = .01, studies = 9) and pain threshold (g = .32, P = .02, studies = 25) was observed in depressed participants, suggesting diminished pain. However, considerable heterogeneity in the direction and magnitude of effects was observed, indicating a likely condition-specific effect of depression on pain. Subgroup analysis found that pain threshold/tolerance was increased in depression for exteroceptive (cutaneous) stimulation but decreased for interoceptive (ischemic) stimulation, but that substantial heterogeneity remained. Overall, results provide some support for altered pain processing in depression, but suggest this link is dependent upon modality and additional, unidentified factors. PERSPECTIVE: This meta-analysis of experimental studies suggests potential effects of depression on pain perception are variable and likely to depend upon multiple factors. The contrasting pattern for ischemic versus other noxious stimuli suggests that stimulus modality is a key factor, which could help explain discrepancies across clinical and experimental findings.

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This page is part of the PainScience BIBLIOGRAPHY, which contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers & others sources. It’s like a highly specialized blog. A few highlights: