Factors Associated With Chronic Pain Intensity in U.S. Army Soldiers

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Military medicine

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INTRODUCTION: Chronic pain is prevalent among U.S. military personnel and veterans. The effectiveness of evidence-based pain treatments can be boosted with knowledge of factors associated with chronic pain perception. This study examined the factors that influence soldiers' self-rating of their chronic pain intensity. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study design was a retrospective review of the intake questionnaire from 203 soldiers seen at an Interdisciplinary Pain Management Center. The intake covered various aspects of soldiers' chronic pain experience, including pain intensity, interference in functioning, emotional sequelae, and pain-related catastrophic thinking. Pain intensity and impact were measured using the Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale. The mood was measured using the depression (Patient Health Questionnaire [PHQ]-9) and the anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7) scales from the PHQ. Pain-related catastrophic thinking was measured using the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS). Pain interference was assessed using a five-item scale that inquired about concentration, life and recreation enjoyment, task performance, and socializing. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and linear regression analyses. RESULTS: The mean duration of pain was 34.73 ± 38.66 months. Regression analysis using scores from the PHQ-9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, three PCS subscales (rumination, magnification, and helplessness), and pain interference scale as predictors showed that pain interference and PCS helplessness factors were significant predictors of average pain rating (R2 = 24%, P < .001). CONCLUSIONS: Pain interference in functioning and pain-related thoughts of helplessness accounted for a significant degree of the variance in soldiers' self-rating of their chronic pain. The findings suggest that added attention should be directed at helping patients boost their self-efficacy in using pain-coping methods to improve their functioning and address the perception of helplessness about their pain.



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