Johannes W Vlaeyen

Johannes W Vlaeyen
KU Leuven | ku leuven · Health Psychology Research Group

Prof.dr.

About

586
Publications
258,320
Reads
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Citations
Introduction
Johannes W Vlaeyen currently works at the Research unit for Health Psychology, University of Leuven (Belgium). Johannes does research in Clinical Psychology, Behavioural Science and Health Psychology. He currently leads several research lines on associative learning, pain-related fear and disability, and he chairs the research program 'Asthenes: From acute aversive sensations to chronic bodily symptoms.' funded by the Flemish Government, Belgium.
Additional affiliations
January 2016 - present
KU Leuven
Position
  • Research program Asthenes: "From acute aversive sensations to chronic bodily symptoms"
January 2007 - December 2015
KU Leuven
Position
  • Odysseus Research Program Psychology of Pain and Disability
January 2007 - December 2011
Maastricht University
Position
  • Pain, Mood, Stop rules and Task Performance

Publications

Publications (586)
Article
Full-text available
Aims and hypotheses In an environment of absolute silence, researchers have found many of their participants to perceive phantom sounds (tinnitus). With this between-subject experiment, we aimed to elaborate on these research findings, and specifically investigated whether–in line with the fear-avoidance model of tinnitus perception and reactivity–...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Chronic tinnitus is effectively treated through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Both group and individual CBT for tinnitus are effective, but no study has directly compared the two. The current study explores group versus individual CBT for tinnitus. Design: A multiple-baseline single-case experimental design was employed to observe...
Article
Rather than assuming that pain symptoms are the effects of a latent (underlying) cause, complex pain disorders may better be conceptualised as systems of causally connected symptoms in the form of a network.
Article
Full-text available
When making behavioural decisions, individuals need to balance between exploiting known options or exploring new ones. How individuals solve this exploration-exploitation dilemma (EED) is a key research question across psychology, leading to attempting to disentangle the cognitive mechanisms behind it. A potential predictive factor of performance i...
Preprint
Full-text available
When making behavioural decisions, individuals need to balance between exploiting known options or exploring new ones. How individuals solve this exploration-exploitation dilemma (EED) is a key research question across psychology, leading to attempting to disentangle the cognitive mechanisms behind it. A potential predictive factor of performance i...
Article
Full-text available
Background Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a heterogeneous disorder of gut‐brain interaction (DGBI) maintained by interacting biological, psychological, and social processes. Interestingly, there are two contrasting yet evidence‐based treatment approaches for reducing IBS symptoms: exclusion diets such as those low in fermentable oligo‐, di‐, mon...
Article
When making behavioral decisions, individuals need to balance between exploiting known options or exploring new ones. How individuals solve this exploration-exploitation dilemma (EED) is a key research question across psychology, leading to attempting to disentangle the cognitive mechanisms behind it. A potential predictive factor of performance in...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Low back pain (LBP) individuals with high levels of fear of pain might display changes in motor behavior, which leads to disability. This study aimed to systematically review the influence of pain-related threat beliefs or disability on trunk kinematic or postural control in LBP. Method Eight electronic databases were searched from January...
Article
Full-text available
Pain is thought to be influenced by the threat value of the particular context in which it occurs. However, the mechanisms by which a threat achieves this influence on pain are unclear. Here, we explore how threat influences experimentally-induced secondary hyperalgesia, which is thought to be a manifestation of central sensitization. We developed...
Article
Objectives: This systematic review examined studies that used mediation analysis to investigate the mechanisms of action of cognitive-behavioral, mind-body and exercise-based interventions for pain and disability in people with chronic primary musculoskeletal pain. Methods: We searched five electronic databases for articles that conducted mediat...
Preprint
According to limited-capacity theories, the processing of nociceptive stimuli may be reduced when less attentional resources are available, which may diminish the development of secondary hypersensitivity, i.e. the increased sensitivity to mechanical pinprick stimuli applied in the uninjured area. In this study, we used Low Frequency Stimulation (L...
Article
Pain-related fear and –avoidance crucially contribute to pain chronification. People with chronic pain may adopt costly avoidance strategies above and beyond what is necessary, aligning with experimental findings of excessive fear generalization to safe movements in these populations. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that, when avoidance is co...
Article
Errors put organisms in danger. Upon error commission, error processing allows for the updating of behavior that proved ineffective in light of the current context and goals, and for the activation of behavioral defensive systems. Pain, on the other hand, signals actual or potential danger to one's physical integrity and, likewise, motivates protec...
Article
Objectives: Tinnitus is the perception of sound without an external source, affecting quality of life that can cause severe distress in approximately 1 to 3% of the population of people with tinnitus. Randomized controlled trials of cognitive behavioral therapy for tinnitus have demonstrated its effectiveness in improving quality of life, but the...
Article
Full-text available
Introduction Chronic pain affects about 20%–40% of the population and is linked to mental health outcomes and impaired daily functioning. Pharmacological interventions are commonly insufficient for producing relief and recovery of functioning. Behavioural health treatment is key to generate lasting benefits across outcome domains. However, most peo...
Article
Pain can be considered as a signal of "bodily error": errors put organisms at danger and activate behavioral defensive systems. If the error is of physical nature, pain is the warning signal that motivates protective action such as avoidance behavior to safeguard our body's integrity. Interestingly, an important component of neural error processing...
Article
Full-text available
Single-case experiments are increasingly popular in the behavioral sciences. Due to their flexibility, single-case designs can be customized to test a variety of experimental hypotheses. We were interested in using a single-case experimental approach to test whether pain thres holds can be influenced by Pavlovian classical conditioning. Following the...
Article
Full-text available
Background Previous studies indicated that about 20% of the individuals undergoing back surgery are unable to return to work 3 months to 1 year after surgery. The specific factors that predict individual trajectories in postoperative pain, recovery, and work resumption are largely unknown. The aim of this study is to identify modifiable predictors...
Article
Menschen mit chronischen Schmerzen haben oft Angst vor bestimmten Bewegungen. Sie vermeiden entsprechende Aktivitäten, bauen körperlich ab und leiden schlimmstenfalls unter noch stärkeren Schmerzen und Depressionen. Die Expositionstherapie sowie das Graded-Activity-Konzept helfen, den Teufelskreis des Angst-Vermeidungs-Modells zu durchbrechen.
Article
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to develop the Avoidance of Daily Activities Photo Scale (ADAP Shoulder Scale) to measure shoulder pain-related avoidance behavior in patients with shoulder pain and evaluate and report the structural validity and internal consistency of the scale. Methods: Potential daily activities involving the should...
Article
Prior expectations can bias how we perceive pain. Using a drift diffusion model, we recently showed that this influence is primarily based on changes in perceptual decision-making (indexed as shift in starting point). Only during unexpected application of high-intensity noxious stimuli, altered information processing (indexed as increase in drift r...
Article
Background and aims: Disease-related behaviours that may maintain or worsen symptom burden remain largely unexplored in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In this study, we developed and validated an instrument assessing IBD-related, modifiable behaviours and explored which behaviours prospectively correlate with fatigue, a debilitating and common...
Article
Full-text available
In this article we briefly examine the unique features of Single-Case Designs (SCDs) (studies in a single participant), their history and current trends, and real-world clinical applications. The International Collaborative Network for N-of-1 Trials and Single-Case Designs (ICN) is a formal collaborative network for individuals with an interest in...
Article
Background: Studies using somatic pain models have shown the hypoalgesic effects of slow, deep breathing. We evaluated the effect of slow, deep breathing on visceral pain and explored putative mediating mechanisms including autonomic and emotional responses. Methods: Fifty-seven healthy volunteers (36 females, mean age = 22.0 years) performed co...
Article
We examined how predictable and unpredictable punishment intensity contingent on error commission modulated ERN amplitudes. We recorded the ERN in 35 healthy volunteers performing the Eriksen flanker task. Errors were punished with predictable nonpainful, painful or unpredictable electrical stimulation. Furthermore, we investigated trait anxiety. W...
Article
Slow, deep breathing (SDB) is a common pain self‐management technique. Stimulation of the arterial baroreceptors and vagal modulation are suggested, among others, as potential mechanisms underlying the hypoalgesic effects of SDB. We tested whether adding an inspiratory load to SDB, which results in a stronger baroreceptor stimulation and vagal modu...
Article
Full-text available
The ICD-11 chronic pain classification includes about 100 chronic pain diagnoses on different diagnostic levels. Each of these diagnoses requires specific operationalized diagnostic criteria to be present. The classification comprises more than 200 diagnostic criteria. The aim of the Classification Algorithm for Chronic Pain in ICD-11 (CAL-CP) is t...
Article
Pain can be considered as a signal of "bodily error": Errors put organisms at danger and activate behavioral defensive systems. If the error is of physical nature, pain is the warning signal that motivates protective action such as avoidance behavior to safeguard our body's integrity. Interestingly, an important component of neural error processing...
Article
Low back pain covers a spectrum of different types of pain (eg, nociceptive, neuropathic and nociplastic, or non-specific) that frequently overlap. The elements comprising the lumbar spine (eg, soft tissue, vertebrae, zygapophyseal and sacroiliac joints, intervertebral discs, and neurovascular structures) are prone to different stressors, and each...
Article
Full-text available
Daily life consists of a chain of decisions. Typically, individuals may choose to pursue what they already know (exploitation), or to search for other options (exploration). This exploration-exploitation dilemma is a topic of interest across multiple scientific fields. Here we propose that investigating how individuals solve this dilemma may improv...
Article
The effects of expectations on pain perception are often studied using large differences in pain probabilities between experimental conditions, while they may be far more subtle in clinical contexts and, therefore, more difficult to detect. The current study aimed to investigate at which point subtle differences in pain probabilities can be detecte...
Article
Objective: Traditional methods of self-report assessments are susceptible to bias (i.e., memory, recall, and recency). Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) may curb these biases by repeated momentary assessment of the participant throughout the day. High costs and participant burden may, however, impede the use of EMA. End-of-day diary (EDD) provi...
Article
Full-text available
Objective: Traditional methods of self-report assessments are susceptible to bias (i.e., memory, recall, and recency). Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) may curb these biases by repeated momentary assessment of the participant throughout the day. High costs and participant burden may, however, impede the use of EMA. End-of-day diary (EDD) prov...
Article
Background A subset of patients with chronic pain who receive Exposure in vivo (EXP) treatment experience clinically-relevant pain intensity relief. Although pain relief is no explicit therapeutic target, it is important to understand how and why this concomitant effect occurs in some but not others. This longitudinal study therefore aims to charac...
Chapter
Tinnitus is the perception of a phantom sound and the patient's reaction to it. Although much progress has been made, tinnitus remains a scientific and clinical enigma of high prevalence and high economic burden, with an estimated prevalence of 10%–20% among the adult population. The EU is funding a new collaborative project entitled “Unification o...
Chapter
As for hypertension, chronic pain, epilepsy and other disorders with particular symptoms, a commonly accepted and unambiguous definition provides a common ground for researchers and clinicians to study and treat the problem. The WHO's ICD11 definition only mentions tinnitus as a nonspecific symptom of a hearing disorder, but not as a clinical entit...
Chapter
Introduction: Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is a method capable of assessing tinnitus experience throughout the day, enabling the exploration of daily dynamic changes of tinnitus expression. However, the effects on patients' tinnitus experience itself are still largely unknown. This study seeks to test the hypothesis that the use of EMA neg...
Chapter
In recent decades, it has become clear that data collected at an individual level provides critical evidence that can be used to refine theories, improve treatment, and inform health care decisions. Recent developments in the field of single-case experimental design (SCED) have provided new opportunities to utilize data from a single person. After...
Article
Full-text available
Pain can be considered as a signal of "bodily error": Errors-discrepancies between the actual and optimal/targeted state-can put organisms at danger and activate behavioral defensive systems. If the error relates to the body, pain is the warning signal that motivates protective action such as avoidance behavior to safeguard our body's integrity. He...
Article
Objectives: Worry is the most common psychological complaint among patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This study aimed to translate and test the psychometric properties the Rating Form of IBD Patient Concerns (RFIPC) among Dutch-speaking patients with IBD in Belgium. It also aimed to describe worries and concerns, and to examine possib...
Article
Full-text available
Compared to the field of anxiety research, the use of fear conditioning paradigms for studying chronic pain is relatively novel. Developments in identifying the neural correlates of pain-related fear are important for understanding the mechanisms underlying chronic pain and warrant synthesis to establish the state-of-the-art. Using effect-size sign...
Preprint
Full-text available
Avoidance towards innocuous stimuli is a key characteristic across anxiety-related disorders and chronic pain. Insights into the relevant learning processes of avoidance are often gained via laboratory procedures, where individuals learn to avoid stimuli or movements that have been previously associated with an aversive stimulus. Typically, statist...
Article
Deep breathing exercises are commonly used for several health conditions including pain and hypertension. Various techniques are available to practice deep breathing, whereas possible differential psychophysiological effects have not been investigated. We compared four deep breathing techniques and examined outcomes in blood pressure variability, r...
Article
Full-text available
Avoidance behavior is a key contributor to the transition from acute pain to chronic pain disability. Yet, there has been a lack of ecologically valid paradigms to experimentally investigate pain-related avoidance. To fill this gap, we developed a paradigm (the robotic arm-reaching paradigm) to investigate the mechanisms underlying the development...
Article
The fear-avoidance model of chronic pain predicts that catastrophic (mis)interpretation of pain elicits pain-related fear that in turn may spur avoidance behaviour leading to chronic pain disability. Here we investigated whether performing a movement to avoid a painful stimulus in the context of a novel movement increases threat and pain-related fe...
Article
Full-text available
Background. Maladaptive defensive responses such as excessive avoidance behavior have received increasing attention as a main mechanism for the development and maintenance of chronic pain complaints. However, another defensive response which is commonly studied in animals as a proxy for fear is freezing behavior. No research to date has investigate...
Article
Full-text available
Avoidance towards innocuous stimuli is a key characteristic across anxiety-related disorders and chronic pain. Insights into the relevant learning processes of avoidance are often gained via laboratory procedures, where individuals learn to avoid stimuli or movements that have been previously associated with an aversive stimulus. Typically, statist...
Article
Background Although pain-related avoidance is mainly intended to reduce the accompanying anticipatory fear, avoidance behavior may paradoxically increase fear when a previous avoidance response is no longer available, suggesting that there is a bidirectional relationship between pain-related fear and avoidance. Purpose We hypothesized that avoidan...
Preprint
Recent findings showed that an unpredictable context increases the amplitude of the Error-Related Negativity (ERN), a cognitive Event-Related Potential (ERP) that appears after the commission of an error. Interestingly, this effect has only been studied using unpredictable, performance-unrelated stimuli. In many situations, however, it is the conse...
Article
Full-text available
Background: Exposure treatments are shown to be effective in reducing pain-related fear and the perceived harmfulness of physical activities. However, due to the fragility of extinction its stability is questionable. We investigated the generalizability of exposure effects in chronic low back pain (CLBP) patients by integrating a behavioral test in...
Article
Background and aims: Contemporary fear-avoidance models of chronic pain posit that fear of pain, and overgeneralization of fear to non-threatening stimuli is a potential pathway to chronic pain. While increasing experimental evidence supports this hypothesis, a comprehensive investigation requires testing in multiple modalities due to the diversity...
Article
Full-text available
Biases in the way that people direct their attention towards or away from pain-related information are hypothesised to contribute to the onset and severity of pain-related disorders. This systematic review summarised 24 eye-tracking studies (N = 1424) examining effects of chronic pain, stimulus valence, individual differences in pain-related constr...
Article
Experimental data suggest that associative learning can influence defensive avoidance behavior and pain perception in humans. However, whether voluntary movements can become conditioned stimuli and influence pain responses has yet to be evaluated. Forty healthy volunteers participated in this study. Electrocutaneous stimuli applied to the shoulder...
Article
With the objective of increasing the magnitude of treatment effects in behavioral health, there is a steadily growing interest in tailoring assessments and interventions to better match individual needs. This aligns with the central idea that behaviors can be adequately understood by considering the unique characteristics of the individual and cont...
Article
Full-text available
Background and aims In the spring of 2019, Professor Steven J. Linton, the founder of the Center for Health and Medical Psychology (CHAMP) at Örebro University, Sweden, formally retired. As a tribute to his scholarly work covering decades of influence and inspiration to the field of pain psychology, the research center organized a topical conferenc...
Article
Whether, how, and which cognitive factors modulate the development of secondary hypersensitivity/hyperalgesia following central sensitization is not fully understood. Here we tested, in three subsequent experiments, whether being engaged in non-pain related cognitive demanding tasks: i) lessens the amount of hypersensitivity developed after an expe...
Article
Slow deep breathing (SDB) is commonly employed in the management of pain, but the underlying mechanisms remain equivocal. This study sought to investigate effects of instructed breathing patterns on experimental heat pain and to explore possible mechanisms of action. In a within-subject experimental design, healthy volunteers (n = 48) performed fou...
Article
Background A substantial group of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) experience fatigue, even while in clinical remission. At present, disease-specific behaviours that maintain or worsen symptom burden including fatigue have not been explored. We developed a questionnaire evaluating IBD-specific avoidance behaviour and investigated how...
Article
Background: Tinnitus affects up to 21% of the adult population with an estimated 1% to 3% experiencing severe problems. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a collection of psychological treatments based on the cognitive and behavioural traditions in psychology and often used to treat people suffering from tinnitus. Objectives: To assess the e...
Article
Menschen mit chronischen Schmerzen haben mitunter Angst vor bestimmten Bewegungen. Sie vermeiden entsprechende Aktivitäten, bauen körperlich ab und leiden schlimmstenfalls unter noch stärkeren Schmerzen und Depressionen. Die Ursache für ihre ‚Kinesiophobie‘ liegt in bewegungsassoziierten Negativerfahrungen, im sozialen Umfeld und auch in der unbeab...
Article
The aim of the study reported in this paper is to investigate the effect of slow-deep breathing (SDB) on self-reported pain, heart rate variability (HRV) and baroreflex sensitivity (BRS). These effects are examined in three separate experiments, each using a different phasic pain modality. For each experiment, different subjects were recruited. Eig...
Article
Persons with chronic musculoskeletal pain may be hypervigilant for pain-related cues which, paradoxically, may be maintaining their pain. Several randomized controlled trials have assessed whether a modified dot-probe protocol (i.e., attention bias modification; ABM) reduces chronic pain- and pain-related symptoms in persons with several diagnoses,...
Article
Exposure in vivo has been found successful in reducing pain-related fear, disability, and experienced pain in chronic pain patients. Despite the success of exposure treatment, experimental studies show that extinction learning is fragile, raising doubts whether extinction of pain-related fear generalizes to new threatening activities after treatmen...
Preprint
Pain is considered a hardwired signal of bodily disturbance belonging to a basic motivational system that urges the individual to act and to restore the body's integrity, rather than just a sensory and emotional experience. Given its eminent survival value, pain is a strong motivator for learning. Response to repeated pain increases when harm risks...
Article
Pain-related fear is typically associated with avoidance behavior and pain-related disability in youth with chronic pain. Youth with elevated pain-related fear have attenuated treatment responses, thus targeted treatment is highly warranted. Evidence supporting graded in-vivo exposure treatment (GET) for adults with chronic pain is considerable, bu...