Israeli study shows that watching coverage of a terror attack on TV can increase chronic pain intensity.
Exposure to media coverage of terrorist rocket attacks increases pain levels in people already suffering from chronic pain, according to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers. The researchers showed that exposure to the attacks through the media predicted an increase in pain intensity and in the sensory component of pain during the pre-post war period. The study — Does War Hurt? Effects of Media Exposure After Missile Attacks on Chronic Pain – was published in the online version of the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings. Prof. Golan Shahar and Dr. Sheera F. Lerman of BGU’s Department of Psychology, along with Dr. Zvia Rudich of Soroka University Medical Center, assessed patients regarding their pain, depression and anxiety, as well as their level of exposure following the missile attacks during Operation Cast Lead. The study showed that chronic pain patients are a vulnerable population requiring special attention during terrorism-related stress. Stress and media exposure were also strongly related, suggesting that the amount of television viewing related to the terrorist attacks may have influenced how much stress the individual experienced. “Patients’ previous levels of emotional distress may affect their ability to cope with stressful situations, making stressors more prominent and influencing them to seek out more information about the situation,” Prof. Shahar said. The study assessed 55 chronic pain patients treated at a specialty pain clinic. The patients completed self-report questionnaires regarding their pain, depression and anxiety before and after the three-week missile attacks.