In a new study, researchers have confirmed the analgesic effects of social support on reducing pain – even without verbal or physical contact.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Health Sciences and other institutes.
The team assessed sensitivity to pressure pain in 48 couples with each participant tested alone and in the passive presence of their partner.
Dispositional empathy was quantified by a questionnaire.
The team found in the presence, as compared to the absence, of their partners both men and women exhibited higher pain thresholds and tolerance as well as lower sensory and affective pain ratings on constant pressure stimuli.
Partner empathy was positively linked to pain tolerance and inversely linked to the sensory pain experience.
The team says talking and touching have been shown to reduce pain, but the current research shows that even the passive presence of a romantic partner can reduce pain and that partner empathy may buffer affective distress during pain exposure.
One author of the study is Professor Stefan Duschek of UMIT.
The study is published in the Scandinavian Journal of Pain.
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