-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
MONDAY, Oct. 10 (HealthDay News) -- People are more sympathetic
and receptive to the pain of likeable patients than those who are
disliked, according to a new study.
Researchers say the findings could result in a lower level of
care for people associated with negative qualities.
Researchers at Ghent University in Belgium asked 40 volunteers
to look at photos of six patients labeled with negative, neutral or
positive descriptions, such as egotistical, reserved or
The volunteers then watched short videos of the patients with
shoulder pain undergoing a physical. Based on what they saw,
viewers rated the severity of the patients' pain on a scale of "no
pain" to "pain as bad as could be," and categorized the patients as
negative or positive, disagreeable or agreeable, as well as
unsympathetic or sympathetic.
The study, published in the October issue of the journal
PAIN, revealed the volunteers rated the patients associated with negative traits, such as "arrogant" as less likeable than patients associated with more neutral traits, such as "reserved" or "conventional." Those associated with the neutral traits, however, were considered less likeable than those who were assigned positive qualities, such as "honest" or "friendly."
Moreover, the researchers found volunteers were less sympathetic
to the pain of the patients they did not like. The participants
also discounted the discomfort of disliked patients expressing
high-intensity pain, evaluating their pain as less intense than
that of the likable patients expressing high-intensity pain. Among
the disliked patients, the researchers added, the study
participants were less able to differentiate between various levels
"Our results suggest that pain of disliked patients who express high pain is taken less seriously by others. This could imply less helping behavior by others as well as poorer health outcomes," the authors said in a journal news release.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
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