Evidence of increased non-verbal behavioral signs of pain in adults with neurodevelopmental disorders and chronic self-injury

Frank J. Symons, Vicki N. Harper, Patrick J. McGrath, Lynn M. Breau, James W. Bodfish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations

Abstract

The role of pain in relation to self-injurious behavior (SIB) among individuals with intellectual disabilities is not well understood. Some models of SIB are based on altered endogenous opioid system activity which could result in elevated pain thresholds. In this study, non-verbal behavioral signs indicative of pain as measured by the Non-Communicating Children's Pain Checklist (NCCPC) were compared between matched individuals with (N = 35) and without (N = 35) chronic self-injurious behavior (SIB) and neurodevelopmental disorders. Significant (p < .01) between group differences (SIB Group > Control Group) were found for the NCCPC Total Score, and for the Vocal, Social/Personality, and Eating/Sleeping subscales of the NCCPC. These results are not consistent with models of SIB in which pain sensitivity is assumed to be attenuated because of opioid system activity and are suggestive of intact and possibly amplified pain expression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)521-528
Number of pages8
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Volume30
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

Keywords

  • Pain
  • Self-injurious behavior

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