Current Pain and Headache Reports

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 90–95 | Cite as

How does distraction work in the management of pain?

  • Malcolm H. Johnson


Engaging in thoughts or activities that distract attention from pain is one of the most commonly used and highly endorsed strategies for controlling pain. The process of distraction appears to involve competition for attention between a highly salient sensation (pain) and consciously directed focus on some other information processing activity. In this article, the evidence for distraction from pain is examined and the qualities of pain, the distractor, and some individual difference variables that have been shown influence the effectiveness of distraction are described. There has been little examination of the use of distraction in chronic pain, but some ancillary evidence suggests that it should be used with caution.


Chronic Pain Anterior Cingulate Cortex Chronic Pain Patient Distraction Task Pain Sufferer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Current Science Inc 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malcolm H. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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