There is a growing body of research on the negative impact of pain upon cognition. cognition is a group of mental processes that includes attention, memory, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making.
What factors interferes with cognition:
1. Pain disrupts the individuals capacity to focus upon information (attention), remember what was said and to incorporate new leaning.
2. Anxiety interferes with attention and the more effortful skill of concentration. Attention is more passive; the individual merely receives what is being communicated, but concentration requires the storage of the information along with the concepts being conveyed.
3. Depression can effectively block short term memory, decision-making, problem-solving, reasoning and judgment
4. Pain medication can negatively affect all aspects of cognition
Thus, an injured patient, in pain, anxious about symptoms and treatment, depressed over the financial and other impacts that are going to befall him/her is prescribed medication to mask the impact of pain. But that medication is a further contributor to the cognitive problems that arise.
We need patients to specifically focus upon what they are being told, what is expected of them and what they can expect of us.
However, we frequently fail to note that merely because a patent appears to be listening, s/he may be thoughtless regarding their future the needed cognition may not be occurring, and we need to know what is impeding these cognitive skills so that we may adjust our explanations accordingly.