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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Jun 2021 - 25 Jun 2021


Human Studies

2021 Jun 24

Exp Clin Psychopharmacol

Chronic pain and COVID-19: The association of delay discounting with perceived stress and pain severity.


Craft WH, Tegge AN, Bickel WK
Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2021 Jun 24.
PMID: 34166035.


The coronavirus disease pandemic of 2019 (COVID-19) is a worldwide threat to public health that has significantly affected the United States. The pandemic poses a variety of health risks including stressful disruptions in social and economic activity. Understanding the pandemic's effects on already vulnerable populations, such as individuals with chronic pain, may inform healthcare preparation for future catastrophic events. Given the association between excessive discounting of delayed rewards and chronic pain, this study examined relationships between delay discounting, pain severity, and COVID-19 perceived stress in individuals with chronic pain. Individuals reporting chronic pain (N = 180; 41% female; 86% white; 59% with a college degree) were recruited via the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform in this cross-sectional study. Measures of pain severity, delay discounting, probability discounting, and COVID-19 perceived stress were collected. Delay discounting was a significant predictor of overall pain severity (p < .02) and COVID-19 perceived stress (p < .001). Also, the magnitude of COVID-19 perceived stress fully mediated the relationship between delay discounting and overall pain severity (p = .004). Probability discounting was not a significant predictor of pain severity or COVID-19 perceived stress (p > .05). These findings highlight the importance of excessive discounting of delayed rewards as a potential determinant of pain severity as well as predictor of perceived stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, the discounting of delayed rewards is of particular therapeutic importance for individuals with chronic pain in the context of stressful events. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).