Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Dysmenorrhea affects womens' productivity, social life and sleep patterns, and is exacerbated by stress and negative affect. This study had two main goals: (a) to find an effective psychological treatment for dysmenorrhea and (b) to investigate the effect of matching treatment to expectations. Specifically, this study proposed that (a) women would benefit more from a cognitive or somatic treatment than they would from a wait-list period, (b) a combined treatment (combining cognitive and somatic elements) would be superior to either treatment alone and (c) matching treatment approach to expectations would result in more benefit from therapy.;Three studies were conducted addressing these hypotheses. Study 1 demonstrated the need for and scope of a psychological treatment for these women. In Study 2, the treatment expectation questionnaire was developed and tested. In Study 3, women received a cognitive treatment (relabeling, distraction, coping statements), a somatic treatment (relaxation, numbing of discomfort area), or waited to receive a combined treatment.;Women in all the groups displayed reductions on all pain measures and most non-pain measures from pre- to post-treatment. The cognitive treatment group improved significantly more than the somatic treatment group on sensory pain, evaluative pain, Moos behavior and social interference. There were no significant differences between the treatment groups and the wait-list control group, however there were trends for the cognitive treatment group to improve more than the control group on evaluative pain and social interference. There were no significant differences between the combined treatment group and the other treatment groups. It was suggested that the dramatic improvement in the wait-list control group during their waiting period was a result of expectations for improvement, and may be the cause for the lack of significant findings. In addition, reduction in medication use after treatment, which occurred only in the cognitive and combined treatment groups, may have masked treatment effects between the groups.;No matching effect was found. Perhaps the information provided in the first session helped women change their expectations, therefore attenuating the matching effect.



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