The synergistic effect between interoceptive accuracy and alcohol use disorder status on pain sensitivity
Background: Interoceptive accuracy and pain sensitivity are both risk factors in the development of alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, the synergistic association between these two factors has not been investigated in an AUD sample. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to investigate whether the association between interoceptive accuracy and sensitivity to pain differed across AUD status.
Methods: The study group included 165 individuals diagnosed with AUD (88.1% men) and 110 healthy controls (HCs; 74.5% men). Interoceptive accuracy was assessed with the Schandry Task. The Pain Sensitivity Questionnaire was utilized to measure sensitivity to pain. Anxiety, biological sex, and age were included as covariates in a model examining the role of AUD status as a moderator in the association between interoceptive accuracy and pain sensitivity.
Results: A significant interaction was found between interoceptive accuracy and AUD status (b = −4.580, 95% CI=[−8.137,−1.022], p=0.012, ΔR2=0.032). Findings indicate that interoceptive accuracy was negatively associated with pain sensitivity among individuals with AUD, while there was a trend for an opposite association among healthy controls.
Conclusion: We hypothesize that persistent alcohol drinking may contribute to disruption of the normative association between interoception and pain. Future studies should be conducted to develop knowledge on this association and to investigate its possible therapeutic significance and implications.