Late Breaking News
Pain Is Issue for Veterans with Severe Mental Illnesses
- Categorized in: July 2013
ANN ARBOR, MI - Pain complicates treatment and recovery in veterans with serious mental illness, according to a recent study from the VA’s Serious Mental Illness Treatment Resource and Evaluation Center (SMITREC).1
Assessing the rates of chronic, non-cancer pain in VHA patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, researchers determined that “non-cancer pain conditions occur in elevated rates among patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”
Using administrative data extracted from VHA treatment records of more than 5 million patients receiving VHA services in fiscal year 2008, the cross-sectional study sought to quantify associations between severe psychiatric disorders — schizophrenia and bipolar disorder — and chronic pain — arthritis, back pain, chronic pain, migraine, headache, psychogenic and neuropathic.
Researchers found that veterans with schizophrenia [odds ratio (OR)=1.21] and bipolar disorder (OR=2.17) were significantly more likely to have chronic pain overall compared with VHA patients without those psychiatric conditions. The highest associations between specific psychiatric diagnosis and pain condition were found with chronic pain, headache and psychogenic pain.
Study authors note that the associations were slightly lower than for those between depression and pain in the sample (OR=2.61).
“Future research could further examine possible barriers to adequate pain treatment among people with serious mental illness, as well as the extent to which chronic pain might impact mental health recovery,” the authors conclude.
- Birgenheir DG, Ilgen MA, Bohnert AS, Abraham KM et. al. Pain conditions among veterans with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 29. pii: S0163-8343(13)00100-X. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2013.03.019. [Epub ahead of print]