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Volume 44 Number 2 2007
Pages 153 — 166


Abstract - Veterans seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder: What about comorbid chronic pain?

Jillian C. Shipherd, PhD;1-2* Megan Keyes, PhD;3-4 Tanja Jovanovic, PhD;4-5 David J. Ready, PhD;4-5 David Baltzell, MD;4-5 Virginia Worley, LICSW;4 Vanessa Gordon-Brown, MD;4 Cantrina Hayslett, MA;4-5 Erica Duncan, MD4-5

1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress
Disorder-Women's Health Sciences Division, Boston, MA; 2Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; 3New Orleans VA Medical Center (VAMC), New Orleans, LA; 4Atlanta VAMC, Atlanta, GA; 5Department of
Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA

Abstract — Our primary aim was to document the rate of comorbidity of physician-diagnosed chronic pain conditions in veterans who were seeking treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Chronic pain diagnoses (e.g., chronic low- back pain and osteoarthritis) were examined with retrospective chart review. Of the patients with PTSD, 66% had chronic pain diagnoses at pretreatment. These findings are consistent with previous studies that documented the high comorbidity of chronic pain and PTSD using samples of pain patients. Our secondary aim was to examine pain ratings before, during, and after PTSD treatment. Using data that were a part of clinical practice, we found that patients with more pain before treatment reported reductions in pain over the course of PTSD treatment and in the 4 months following treatment. While our results must be interpreted cautiously because of multiple confounding factors and the absence of experimental manipulation, they highlight the importance of PTSD and pain comorbidity.

Key words: chart review, chronic pain, comorbidity, generalizability, pain, posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD, rehabilitation, treatment, veterans.


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