Characteristics of Patients with Non-Cancer Pain and Perceived Severity of COVID-19 Related Stress

Jeffrey F. Scherrer, Lisa R. Miller-Matero, Joanne Salas, Mark D. Sullivan, Scott Secrest, Kirsti Autio, Lauren Wilson, Matthew Amick, Lynn DeBar, Patrick J. Lustman, Sarah Gebauer, Brian Ahmedani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Synopsis Patients with non-cancer pain reported increased pain and pain interference during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We determined if pain, prescription opioid use, and comorbidities were associated with perceived COVID-19-related stress as the pandemic peaked. Analysis of survey data revealed that depression/anxiety, pain severity, and pain interference were most strongly and consistently associated with greater stress due to COVID-19 related changes in lifestyle, worsening of emotional/mental health and worsening pain. Identifying specific stressful experiences that most impacted patients with non-cancer pain may help target public health and treatment interventions. Background: During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with chronic pain reported increased pain severity and interference. This study measured the association between pain, prescription opioid use, and comorbidities with perceived COVID-19-related stress as the pandemic peaked in the United States. Methods: From 9/2020 to 3/2021, the first 149 subjects from a prospective cohort study of non-cancer pain, completed a survey which contained the Complementary and Integrative Research (CAIR) Pandemic Impact Questionnaire (C-PIQ). Respondents also reported whether the pandemic has contributed to their pain or opioid use. Bivariate comparisons explored patient characteristics with each CAIR domain. Results: Respondents mean age was 54.6 (±11.3) years, 69.8% were female, 64.6% were White. Respondent characteristics were not associated with reading/watching/thinking about the pandemic or with worry about health. Depression/anxiety (p=0.003), using any prescription opioid in the prior three months (p=0.009), higher morphine milligram equivalent used (p=0.005), higher pain severity (p=0.011), and higher pain interference (p=0.0004) were all positively and significantly associated with moderate to severe stress due to COVID-19 related lifestyle changes. Depression/anxiety, pain severity, and pain interference were positively associated with COVID-19-related worsening emotional/mental health. Depression/anxiety were significantly (p<0.0001) associated with reporting that the pandemic made their pain worse. Conclusion: Depression, anxiety, pain severity, and pain interference were most strongly and consistently associated with COVID-19 changes in way of life, worsening of emotional/mental health, and worsening pain. Identifying specific stressful experiences that most impacted patients with noncancer pain may inform public health and treatment interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-236
Number of pages8
JournalMissouri Medicine
Volume119
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2022

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