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JIAAP Online First

JIAAP July 2017
The Utility of Projective Techniques in Pain Assessment: A Historical Review
Chris Piotrowsky
Although pain assessment and measurement are major clinical and research areas in the mental health field, a limited literature is available on the use of projective techniques in the study of pain states. Moreover, a systematic review of relevant studies in this assessment area has not yet been reported. In order to further our understanding of clinical insights gained from the extant literature and to appraise this body of scholarship, the current study presents a historical overview of key findings, based on 26 research articles (1960-2014) reporting on projective methods in the study of pain patients/samples. This analysis concludes that: a) aggregated research findings on this select clinical population tend to support ecological validity of projective methods, but conclusions should be considered tentative, b) corroborative studies are largely lacking, c) evidence proffered by investigators lack cohesion vis-a-vis related clinical findings in the pain assessment literature, and d) despite these daunting critiques, projective assessment may offer an evaluative approach in providing useful insights into the dynamics of the inner world experience of the patient in pain and how pain impacts psychological processes and adaptation. Keywords: Pain Assessment, Projective Techniques, Clinical Efficacy, Ecological Validity.