BACKGROUND: Although post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common co-morbidity in chronic pain, little is known about the association between PTSD and pain in the context of chronic pain rehabilitation. OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was two-fold: (1) to investigate the association of a possible PTSD diagnosis with symptoms of pain, physical and mental functioning, as well as the use of opioids, and (2) to compare the outcome of multidisciplinary chronic pain rehabilitation for patients with a possible PTSD diagnosis at admission with patients without PTSD at admission. METHOD: A consecutively referred cohort of 194 patients completed a baseline questionnaire at admission covering post-traumatic stress, pain symptoms, physical and mental functioning, as well as self-reported sleep quality and cognitive difficulties. Medication use was calculated from their medical records. A total of 95 were admitted to further multidisciplinary treatment and included in the outcome study. RESULTS: A high prevalence of possible PTSD was found (26.3%). Patients with possible co-morbid PTSD experienced significantly poorer general and mental health, poorer sleep quality, and more cognitive problems as well as inferior social functioning compared to patients without PTSD. Possible co-morbid PTSD did not result in higher use of opioids or sedatives. Surprisingly, possible co-morbid PTSD at admission was not associated with lower levels of symptom reduction from pre- to post-treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Possible co-morbid PTSD in chronic pain is a major problem associated with significantly poorer functioning on several domains. Nevertheless, our results indicate that pain-related symptoms could be treated with success despite possible co-morbid PTSD. However, since PTSD was only measured at admission it is not known whether rehabilitation actually reduced PTSD.
European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 2014, Vol 5