Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Sciences, Vol. 14, Iss. 1, January, 2010, pp. 27-46
@2010 Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences


Oscillations in Daily Pain Prediction Accuracy

Patrick H. Finan, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Eric E. Hessler, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Polemnia G. Amazeen, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Jonathan Butner, Department of Psychology, University of Utah
Alex J. Zautra, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
Howard Tennen, Department of Community Medicine and Health Care, University of Connecticut Health Center

Abstract: Dynamical systems modeling was used to analyze fluctuations in the pain prediction process of people with rheumatoid arthritis. 170 people diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis completed 29 consecutive days of diaries. Difference scores between pain predictions and next-day pain experience ratings provided a time series of pain prediction accuracy. Pain prediction accuracy oscillated over time. The oscillation amplitude was larger at the start of the diary than at the end, which indicates damping toward more accurate predictions. State-level psychological characteristics moderated the damping pattern such that the oscillations for patients with lower negative affect and higher pain control damped more quickly than the oscillations for their counterparts. Those findings suggest that low negative affect and high pain control generally contributed to a more accurate pain prediction process in the chronically ill. Positive affect did not differentiate the damping pattern but, within each oscillation cycle, patients with higher positive affect spent more time making inaccurate predictions than their counterparts. The current analyses highlight the need to account for change in data through dynamical modeling, which cannot be fully observed through traditional statistical techniques.

Keywords: pain prediction, damped oscillator, positive affect, negative affect, pain control