Should Investigators Introspect on Their Own Pain Experiences as Study Co-Participants?

  • Simon van RysewykEmail author
  • Carl L. von Baeyer


The question of investigators introspecting on their own personal pain experiences in pain studies has received little attention in the literature. Study of this question may reflect ethical reservations about the many points at which self-interest may lead us to introspect on personal experiences through personal biases that in turn impair professional decision-making and perception. Despite this valid concern about research co-participation, we offer three reasons why investigators can introspect on personal pain as co-participants in their own pain studies. First, there is historical precedent for investigator participation and co-participation in scientific pain research using introspection as a study method. Second, general concerns about variability in self-report based on introspection on pain experience partly derive from true fluctuations in personal pain experience and perceived interests in self-reporting pain, not simply error in its scientific measurement. Third, the availability of the experiential–phenomenological method, a mixed research method for the study of human experiences, allows investigators to co-participate with naïve participants in their own studies by encouraging passive introspection on personal pain experiences.


Pain Experience Pain Catastrophizing Mixed Research Method Pain Research Phenomenological Method 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Humanities, Department of Philosophy and Gender StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Health PsychologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  3. 3.Department of Pediatrics and Child HealthUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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