Are Behavior Disorders Early Risk Factors of Chronic Pain?

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Mental disorders have been found to be predictors for the onset of chronic pain in adolescents.
Mental disorders have been found to be predictors for the onset of chronic pain in adolescents.

Mental disorders have been found to be predictors for the onset of chronic pain in adolescents, according to research published in The Journal of Pain.

Previous research on the associations between mental disorders and chronic pain has been inconsistent and primarily conducted in adults. The goal for the current study was to assess the co-occurrence of mental disorders and clinical pain, and whether one preceded the other, thereby showing a causal or predictive relationship. 

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“Findings indicate that affective, anxiety, and behavior disorders are early risk factors of chronic pain, thereby highlighting the relevance of child mental disorders for pain medicine,” wrote Marion Tegethoff, PhD, from the Department of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Basel in Switzerland, and colleagues.

They examined a subset of data from 6483 participants from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A), a nationwide face-to-face survey of 10,148 adolescents aged 13-18 years between February 2001 and January 2004. The survey gathered data about the adolescents' chronic pain and mental disorders.

Participants self reported lifetime chronic pain using a modified version of the checklist applied in the US National Health Interview Survey. Lifetime mental disorders were surveyed with the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) version 3.0.

To receive additional information on the adolescents' mental health, parents were asked to complete a questionnaire focusing on 5 adolescent mental disorders for which parental reports have been shown to provide diagnostic value.

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