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The Relation of Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms to Depression and Pain in Patients With Accident-Related Chronic Pain

      Abstract

      Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are a common comorbidity in patients with a history of accident-related chronic pain and depression. However, little is known regarding the influence of PTSD in contributing to the affective distress, pain experience, and disability associated with chronic pain in this population. This study used structural equation modeling to examine 3 models that assess these relations in a sample of chronic pain patients with accident-related pain. Subjects were assessed for pain experience, depressive symptoms, anxiety, PTSD symptoms, pain disability, and relevant demographic variables. Pearson correlations indicated that symptoms of depression were significantly related to more severe pain, disability, and PTSD symptoms. PTSD symptoms were significantly associated with higher disability. The model of best fit indicated that after controlling for the influence of anxiety on the dependent measures, PTSD symptoms have a direct influence on severity of depressive symptoms, whereas depressive symptoms have a direct influence on pain intensity and an indirect impact on pain intensity by way of their effect on disability. These data point to the importance of unresolved PTSD symptoms in contributing to the level of depression, pain, and disability exhibited by chronic pain patients and highlight the need to consider directed and primary treatment of PTSD in pain rehabilitation programs.

      Perspective

      This study highlights the impact of symptoms of PTSD on levels of depression, disability, and pain in patients with pain secondary to physical injury. Our results suggest that pain rehabilitation programs provide directed interventions for PTSD symptoms among this population to improve pain treatment outcomes.

      Key words

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