Pain experience of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans with comorbid chronic pain and posttraumatic stress

Samantha D. Outcalt, Dennis C. Ang, Jingwei Wu, Christy Sargent, Zhangsheng Yu, Matthew J. Bair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Chronic pain and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) co-occur at high rates, and Veterans from recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be particularly vulnerable to both conditions. The objective of this study was to identify key aspects of chronic pain, cognitions, and psychological distress associated with comorbid PTSD among this sample of Veterans. Baseline data were analyzed from a randomized controlled trial testing a stepped-care intervention for chronic musculoskeletal pain. Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom (OIF/OEF) Veterans with chronic pain only (n = 173) were compared with those with chronic pain and clinically significant posttraumatic stress symptoms (n = 68). Group differences on pain characteristics, pain cognitions, and psychological distress were evaluated. Results demonstrated that OIF/OEF Veterans with comorbid chronic musculoskeletal pain and PTSD experienced higher pain severity, greater pain-related disability and increased pain interference, more maladaptive pain cognitions (e.g., catastrophizing, self-efficacy, pain centrality), and higher affective distress than those with chronic pain alone. Veterans of recent military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan may be particularly vulnerable to the compounded adverse effects of chronic pain and PTSD. These results highlight a more intense and disabling pain and psychological experience for those with chronic pain and PTSD than for those without PTSD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-570
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Volume51
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Chronic pain
  • Cognitions
  • Comorbidity
  • Mental health
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Pain severity
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Trauma
  • Veteran health
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Medicine(all)

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