Rena Gatzounis

Rena Gatzounis
Maastricht University | UM · Department of Clinical Psychological Science

Doctor of Psychology

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21
Publications
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205
Citations

Publications

Publications (21)
Article
Full-text available
The application of operant learning theory on chronic pain by Fordyce has had a huge impact on chronic pain research and management. The operant model focuses on pain behaviors as a major component of the pain problem, and postulates that they are subject to environmental contingencies. The role of operant learning in pain behaviors generally has b...
Article
In exposure for chronic pain, avoidance is often forbidden (extinction with response prevention; RPE) to prevent misattributions of safety. Although exposure is an effective treatment, relapse is common. Little is known about the underlying mechanisms of return of pain-related avoidance. We hypothesized that pain-related avoidance would recover whe...
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
Full-text available
Exposure in vivo is a theory-driven and widely used treatment to tackle functional disability in people with chronic primary pain. Exposure is quite effective; yet, in line with exposure outcomes for anxiety disorders, a number of patients may not profit from it, or relapse. In this focus article, we critically reflect on the current exposure proto...
Article
Positive affect is hypothesized to improve safety learning taking place during extinction (i.e., the core mechanism of exposure treatment), therefore improving the maintenance of treatment outcomes. We investigated whether positive affect during extinction attenuates the return of pain-related avoidance and fear. In an operant pain-related avoidanc...
Article
Avoidance is a hallmark symptom and a primary maintaining factor in anxiety disorders. Theories of anxiety disorders have focused not only on overt avoidance, but also on more subtle avoidance known as ‘safety behaviours’. Safety behaviours involve behaviours which aim to reduce anxiety or prevent a feared outcome from occurring. In the long-term,...
Article
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Excessive generalization of fear and avoidance are hallmark symptoms of chronic pain disability, yet research focusing on the mechanisms underlying generalization of avoidance specifically, is scarce. Two experiments investigated the boundary conditions of costly pain-related avoidance generalization in healthy participants who learned to avoid pai...
Article
Full-text available
Background and objectives Contingency learning, i.e. learning that a cue predicts the presence (or absence) of an event, is central to the formation of beliefs regarding painfulness of body postures. Such beliefs may spread to safe cues due to compromised learning (e.g., excessive generalization, impaired safety learning), prompting avoidance and l...
Article
Avoidance is considered a key contributor to the development and maintenance of chronic pain disability, likely through its excessive generalization. This study investigated whether acquired avoidance behavior generalizes to novel but similar movements. Using a robotic arm, participants moved their arm from a starting to a target location via one o...
Article
Activity interruptions, namely temporary suspensions of an ongoing task with the intention to resume it later, are common in pain. First, pain is a threat signal that urges us to interrupt ongoing activities in order to manage the pain and its cause. Second, activity interruptions are used in chronic pain management. However, activity interruptions...
Article
Full-text available
Background and aims: Suspending an ongoing activity with the intention to resume it again later is a natural response to pain. This response facilitates coping with the pain, but it may also have negative consequences for the resumption and performance of the activity. For example, people with pain problems are often forced to take a break from do...
Article
Background: Pain interferes with cognitive functioning in several ways. Among other symptoms, pain patients often report difficulties with remembering future intentions. It remains unclear, however, whether it is the pain per se that impairs prospective remembering or other factors that often characterize people with pain (e.g. poor sleep quality)...
Article
Full-text available
Interrupting ongoing activities whilst intending to resume them later is a natural response to pain. Whereas this response facilitates pain management, at the same time it may also disrupt task performance. Previous research has shown that activity interruptions by pain impair subsequent resumption of the activity, but not more than pain-irrelevant...
Article
Full-text available
Background: According to current fear-avoidance models, changes in motor behaviour (e.g. avoidance) are a key component in the development and maintenance of chronic pain complaints. Yet, experimental research assessing actual behavioural changes following painful events is relatively sparse. This study investigated the effects of pain anticipatio...
Article
Full-text available
Background and aims: Interrupting ongoing activities with the intention to resume them again later is a natural response to pain. However, such interruptions might have negative consequences for the subsequent resumption and performance of the interrupted activity. Activity interruptions by pain may be more impairing than interruptions by non-pain...

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Projects

Projects (2)
Project
In my doctoral research I focussed on the consequences of task interruptions in the context of pain.
Project
Exposure treatment for chronic pain is generally effective, but also often followed by relapse. In this project we take an inhibitory learning approach to understanding relapse, that is, the return of pain-related fear and avoidance behaviour, after extinction with response prevention. We will perform a series of experiments using an operant pain-related avoidance behaviour paradigm to investigate the return of pain-related fear and avoidance, as well as the role therein of potential moderating factors.