Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 53 Number 1, 2016
   Pages 71 — 82

Abstract — Prevalence and correlates of painful conditions and multimorbidity in national sample of overweight/obese Veterans

Diana M. Higgins, PhD;1* Eugenia Buta, PhD;2–3 Lindsey Dorflinger, PhD;2,4 Robin M. Masheb, PhD;2,4 ??Christopher B. Ruser, MD;2,4 Joseph L. Goulet, MS, PhD;2,4 Alicia A. Heapy, PhD2,4

1Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Boston Healthcare System, Boston, MA; and Department of Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA; 2VA Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT; 3Department of Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT; 4Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

Abstract — Chronic pain and overweight/obesity are prevalent public health concerns and occur at particularly high rates among Veterans. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of two common painful conditions (back pain and arthritis/joint pain) among overweight/obese Veterans in Veterans Health Administration (VHA) care. Participants (N = 45,477) completed the MOVE!23, a survey intended to tailor treatment for Veterans in VHA's MOVE! weight-management program. Overall, 72% of the sample reported painful conditions, with 10% reporting back pain, 26% reporting arthritis/joint pain, and 35% reporting both. We used multinomial logistic regression with "no pain" as the reference category to examine the association between painful conditions and participant characteristics. After multivariable adjustment, female Veterans had higher odds of reporting arthritis/joint pain and combined back and arthritis/joint pain than no pain. Participants with higher body mass index had higher odds of reporting arthritis/joint pain and both back and arthritis/joint pain. The likelihood of painful conditions was higher in Veterans with comorbidities (hypertension, hyperlipidemia, lung disease, depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder) and generally increased with the number of comorbidities reported (i.e., 5 or more). Overweight/obese Veterans frequently report painful conditions and, among those with pain, often have multiple comorbidities. These factors may increase the complexity of clinical management and necessitate refinements to weight-management programs.

Key words:arthritis, back pain, BMI, chronic pain, comorbidities, multimorbidity, obesity, overweight, Veterans, weight management.


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This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
Higgins DM, Buta E, Dorflinger L, Masheb RM, Ruser CB, Goulet JL, Heapy AA. Prevalence and correlates of painful conditions and multimorbidity in national sample of overweight/obese Veterans. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016; 53(1):71–82.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1682/JRRD.2014.10.0251
ORCID: Diana M. Higgins, PhD: 0000-0002-6885-266X; Alicia A. Heapy, PhD: 0000-0003-1284-8263; Joseph L. Goulet, MS, PhD: 0000-0002-0842-804X.
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