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Papers: 13 Jan 2024 - 19 Jan 2024

2024 Jan 12

Psychol Rep


The Effect of Alexithymia, Attention, and Pain Characteristics on Mentalizing Abilities Among Adults With Chronic Pain.


Šalčiūnaitė-Nikonovė L, Leonas L, Sapranavičiūtė-Zabazlajeva L


Impaired mentalizing abilities are found among persons with chronic pain, yet it is still unknown why. The current study focuses on mentalizing abilities and how these could be affected by different pain factors, alexithymia traits, and other aspects of psychological functioning (depression, anxiety, attention) in persons experiencing chronic pain. 71 participants (80.3% female; mean age 56.1 (SD = 13.1)) with subjectively reported chronic pain conditions participated in the study. Mentalizing abilities were assessed using an objective assessment of the Frith-Happé animations test. Alexithymia was measured using Toronto Alexithymia Scale. Subjectively reported data on various pain characteristics and other related psychological factors (depression, anxiety, attention) were collected. Bivariate linear regression analyses were used to identify variables that had statistically significant relationships with Frith-Happé test scores as dependent variables, which were then used to build multivariate models. Mentalization task scores had no significant associations with alexithymia. However, in bivariate models, greater Frith-Happé animations categorisation score was associated with higher attention task scores (βs = .332, = .005), higher education (βs = .317, = .007), and lower level of depressiveness (βs = -.234, = .049). Greater animations feelings scores were associated with less severe pain intensity (βs = -.322, = .006), younger age (βs = -.399, = .001), and better attention (βs = .383, = .001). In multivariate analysis models predicting both animations categorisation and feelings scores, attention was found to be the only statistically significant factor (respectively, βs = .257, = .029 and βs = .264, = .035). No significant correlations were found between mentalizing abilities and alexithymic features in persons with chronic pain. Disruptions of attention was the most significant factor leading to lower mentalizing abilities in persons with chronic pain.