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Surprising Science

Texting Builds Relationships and Reduces Physical Pain

The emotional support of a simple text may be enough to ease the pain of someone you hold dear.

Texting: A mere notification is enough to hamper our productivity and throw everything we know about social etiquette out the window when we get a ping at dinner. But none of this compares to the physical pain texting has caused. However, a new study comes to the defense of texting, saying it has redeeming qualities that could help relieve those suffering from chronic pain.

The study consisted of 68 participants, gathered from two pain clinics in New York City. The researchers had them download a pain-tracking app to journal their pain two times a day. The participants were split into two groups: control and intervention. The control group would use the app and continue their standard care, while the intervention group would use the app, continue their care, and also receive a supportive text two times a day during the second and third week of the four-week study.

The texts read things like, “You are a strong and courageous person. You have made it through many struggles and will not give up,” and, “Do not feel guilt about the changes in your life caused by your pain. Your loved ones and doctors support you.”

The researchers found that the texts did help reduce perceptions of pain and how much pain interfered with their day-to-day activities. But these results come with a catch — it only worked for participants who were married or partnered. The texts had no effect on those who were single or without any real companionship.

Jamie Guillory, a researcher at RTI International and lead author on the study, explained why in an email interview with Fusion:

“Married participants had higher perceived levels of social support at the beginning of the experiment, which is consistent with previous studies that show married people to have easier access to social support and larger support networks.”

The most important takeaway from this study is how important love ones can be during times of pain. This study is a testament to the wonders emotional support can do even if it’s just a text or two a day.

Read the study or the report on Fusion.

Photo Credit: Clemens Bilan / Getty


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