Blood Pressure Reactivity and Perception of Pain During the Forehead Cold Pressor Test

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71 Scopus citations


The relationship between blood pressure reactivity and the perception of pain was examined during a series of three forehead cold pressor tests given every other day to a group of 18 male college students. Subjects classified as high reactors on the basis of peak increases in mean blood pressure during cold pressor tests perceived the cold pressor stimulus as more painful than subjects classified as low reactors. The propensity to rate the cold pressor stimulus as painful was positively correlated with the individual level of blood pressure reactivity (baseline-free partial r = .62). Intra-individual correlations between pain and blood pressure responses were unrelated to subjects' reactivity status. Across the 3-min test, correlations between pain and blood pressure reactivity (with the effects of baseline blood pressure levels partialled out) were significant only during periods when levels of responses were relatively high. The heart rate responses were unrelated to pain ratings. Generalizability theory was applied to the analysis of temporal stability of cold pressor reactions. Both blood pressure and pain responses were highly reproducible across three sessions, appearing to express stable individual differences. The efficacy of 800 mg oral ibuprofen in controlling the cold pressor pain was also tested. Analgesic activity of the drug during the cold pressor test could not be demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-495
Number of pages11
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1991


  • Blood pressure reactivity
  • Cold pressor pain
  • Forehead cold pressor test
  • Generalizability theory
  • Ibuprofen
  • Temporal stability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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