Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 53 Number 4, 2016
   Pages 413 — 432

Abstract — Pain and psychiatric comorbidities among two groups of Iraq- and Afghanistan-era Veterans

Kristin M. Phillips, PhD;1* Michael E. Clark, PhD;1–2 Ronald J. Gironda, PhD;1–2 Suzanne McGarity, PhD;1 Robert W. Kerns, PhD;3 Christine A. Elnitsky, PhD;4 Elena M. Andresen, PhD;5 Rose C. Collins, PhD6

1James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, Tampa, FL; 2University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; 3Pain Research, Informatics, Multi-morbidities, and Education Center of Innovation, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Connecticut Healthcare System, West Haven, CT; and School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT; 4School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC; 5School of Public Health, Oregon Health and Science University; and Portland State University, Portland, OR; 6Minneapolis VA Health Care System, Minneapolis, MN

Abstract — This study aimed to (1) identify the prevalence and severity of pain and psychiatric comorbidities among personnel who had been deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) and (2) assess whether the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Polytrauma System of Care and an OIF/OEF/OND registry reflect real differences among patients. Participants (N = 359) were recruited from two VA hospitals. They completed a clinical interview, structured diagnostic interview, and self-report measures. Results indicated pain was the most common complaint, with 87% experiencing pain during the prior week and 56% reporting moderate or severe pain. Eighty percent of participants met criteria for at least one of seven assessed comorbid problems (moderate or severe pain, postconcussional disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], anxiety disorder, mood disorder, substance use disorder, psychosis), and 59 percent met criteria for two or more problems. PTSD and postconcussional disorder rarely occurred in the absence of pain or other comorbidities (0.3% and 0%, respectively). The Polytrauma group had more comorbid psychiatric conditions (Χ2 = 48.67, p < 0.05) and reported greater severity of symptoms (p < 0.05) than the Registry group. This study confirmed the high prevalence of pain and concurrent mental health problems among personnel returning from military deployment.

Key words: Afghanistan, anxiety, blast injuries, chronic pain, combat disorders, comorbidities, depression, Iraq, postconcussive disorder, PTSD, sleep, substance use disorder, TBI, Veterans.

View HTML ¦ View PDF ¦ Contents Vol. 53, No.4

This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
Phillips KM, Clark ME, Gironda RJ, McGarity S, Kerns RW, Elnitsky CA, Andresen EM, Collins RC. Pain and psychiatric comorbidities among two groups of Iraq- and Afghanistan-era Veterans. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016;53(4): 413–32.
ORCID: Robert W. Kerns, PhD: 0000-0001-7609-2771

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