Pain tolerance has been defined as the maximum level of pain that a person can undergo. For various reasons, pain tolerance is higher in man than in women, and it is speculated that this is because of the traditional need for display of masculinity by men while women tend to be more expressive of their pain and will thus most likely not withstand the same level physical pain as men. This paper seeks to develop an objective psychological test to be used for the measure of pain tolerance among different populations of interest, with particular focus on the pain tolerance in the workplace.
Purpose of the Test
The pain tolerance test to be developed will mainly be used by companies to test the pain tolerance of employees with the aim of collecting data which may be relevant for other business purposes. It is also intended that the pain tolerance test will be used to further develop methods of application of pain tolerance statistics policy decisions of industries such as the insurance industry, construction industry and the military.
The test would also be useful for the employees of any particular organization that the test is conducted. This is because will form a basis for informed decision making by the employees based on the finding of such tests, and classifications will be developed to rank employees in particular classes of pain tolerance. This will be important because it will enable employees have in mind an abstract idea of how far they can go in terms of withstanding pain and thus avoiding causing bodily injury to themselves and by extension avoiding high medical and human resources costs to their employers.
The test will be administered by employers in industries where such tests will be relevant and the data will be utilised both internally and externally. A company conducting such test on its employees will be able to develop employee specific policies regarding issues concerning pain, such as the maximum weight each employee will be allowed to lift or carry. This will in effect reduce the chances of a company incurring loss as a result of costs of employee medical costs and lost labour. Externally, the information will be useful to insurance companies since they will be able to develop policies specific to each employee depending on the pain tolerance of insurance policyholders and thus inform their decision on the level of premiums.
Past Works on Pain Tolerance
According to Kenneth M. W.et al (1971), a study conducted to determine the pain tolerance on different demographic groups by use of mechanical pressure on the Achilles tendon found out that on average, pain tolerance is higher in younger people, males are more tolerant of pain than females and that Caucasians tolerate more pain than Orientals, with pain tolerance by Blacks falling between the two groups. Since then, the interest on how pain tolerance can be applied clinically has grown over the years, and though it is difficult to establish an objective measure of pain tolerance, substantial strides have been made in this direction.
Constructs of Pain Tolerance Tests
The test will be conducted primarily by using a rather standard measurement of pain tolerance with the intention of determining how far the subject can withstand pain. The test will be administered through the following process; the subject, while seated, will be asked to place his heel on a platform slightly raised from the floor and his Achilles tendon position between two motorized rods which slightly sharp tips (Woodrow et al, 1972). The subjects will then be instructed on what will be carried out without the use of the word pain and made to clearly understand that the pressure as long as he can tolerate and will be increased until the subject asks that it be stopped, at which point this will be assumed to be the highest point of pain tolerance for the subject. Care will be taken, and the subject will be so informed that he cannot suffer injury from the test.
The test group will then be studied and classified under different categories such as age, race and gender and any other classification which will be deemed relevant for each test.
This pain tolerance test is rather straightforward, and the equipment used is relatively cheap and easily accessible and can also be manufactured to fit the needs of the test requirements rather easily. The use of the Achilles tendon is preferred because applying pressure on it is known to cause pain, and it’s one of the parts of the body which can be easily used to make a relatively standardized test with standardized results.
The tests will be conducted four times, and the main reason for these retests is because it is known that different states of mind affect the tolerance levels of pain. The initial test will be conducted in the morning of a working day, preferably before the employees embark on their daily duties. The second test will be conducted on the same subjects after one week during business closing hours or immediately before business closing hours or the end of their shifts. The third and fourth test will be conducted in a manner and time as the first and the second tests respectively after a fortnight.
Test Administration and Scoring
Since the pain tolerance will be measured by the pressure applied on the Achilles tendon, data will be collected according to the level of pressure that a subject can withstand. The pressure will be measured in kilograms per square centimetre of pressure applied. The four tests will each carry equal weight, and an average pressure that a subject can withstand will be obtained from the four results of the different tests.
The resultant data will then be aggregated on age, gender and race and the mean and standard deviation of each of the demographic groups determined. Further, each of the subjects’ data will be kept individually for further use by the company in policy formulation.
Accord to the tests conducted, data was aggregated into several categories and the results have to be aggregated as such.
According to the results of the test, gender is a significant factor in pain tolerance. Males exhibit higher pain tolerance than females. This can be perhaps attributed to the need for men to display masculinity and are thus able to push themselves physically and psychologically to withstand more pain than women. It may also be because of the competitive nature of men who will try to outdo their colleagues even in tests for pain tolerance.
Women on the other hand are naturally emotional and will not shy from displaying their feelings. In the test, women will indicate physical strain by bodily movements such as flinching and frowning. Thus, women tend to withstand less pain than men as shown by the results of the test.
In formulating policy regarding pain tolerance by employers and insurance companies, this should be considered since it implies that men are wanton to assume higher levels of risk when conducting physical tasks which may strain them physically to the point of injury. This may mean that men will have to pay higher premiums on their insurance policies since they are more likely to engage in activities likely to cause physical harm.
The individual pain tolerance levels for each employee can also be determined and applied in several policy decisions such as allocation of tasks within the workplace. Ideally, those employees with high levels of pain tolerance will be assigned duties under which they are not likely to cause physical harm to themselves and those with low levels of pain tolerance will be assigned tasks where there is a higher risk of causing physical harm. The logic behind this is that those employees with low levels of pain tolerance will not push themselves to high levels of physical strain and will likely ask for help rather than cause harm to their bodies.
In assigning of tasks in the workplace, race considerations will also be made and tasks assigned accordingly to ensure that the employer assumes the minimum risk possible that may arise from employees engaging in physically strenuous tasks.
Pain tolerance increases with age, and older people are able to withstand more pain than younger ones. The implication of this is enormous in terms of policy formulation in the workplace. By implication, older people are more susceptible to adverse health conditions than younger ones, and this implies that naturally, aged people have a higher risk of physical harm than young people. With this in mind, the fact that older people can withstand more pain than younger people implies that older people bear more risk of injury in the workplace than younger people, and as such, the assignment of tasks should be carefully evaluated so that an employer bears the minimum risk possible that may arise from employee injury.
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