Relationship of depression and catastrophizing to pain, disability, and medication adherence in patients with HIV-associated sensory neuropathy

Brendan P. Lucey, David B. Clifford, Jason Creighton, Robert R. Edwards, Justin C. McArthur, Jennifer Haythornthwaite

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Few studies have examined how patients with chronic HIV infection cope with pain and how pain relates to medication adherence. Pain coping strategies such as catastrophizing are often associated with increased pain and disability and may also influence adherence to medications. The goal of our study is to assess the relationship of catastrophizing and depression to pain, disability, and medication adherence through questionnaires administered to a cross-section of patients with HIV-associated sensory neuropathy. In our study, 46 HIV-seropositive subjects completed questionnaires evaluating neuropathic pain severity, pain catastrophizing, pain-related disability, depressive symptoms, severity of antiretroviral therapy (ART) side effects, and common reasons for medication nonadherence. Hierarchical regression analysis indicated that pain catastrophizing correlated with severity of neuropathic pain independent of depressive symptoms. Furthermore, depressive symptoms were not associated with multiple factors independent of pain catastrophizing such as severity of neuropathic pain and pain-related disability. Pain catastrophizing, but not depressive symptoms, correlated with increased pain disability even after controlling for the effects of age and neuropathic pain. We also found that poor adherence attributed to fear of side effects or forgetfulness was associated with increased severity of neuropathic pain, while depressive symptoms but not catastrophizing correlated with ART side effects. These findings suggest that both catastrophizing and depressive symptoms are important factors to consider in the management of pain from HIV neuropathy and adherence to ART.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-928
Number of pages8
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2011


  • HIV
  • catastrophizing
  • depression
  • medication adherence
  • neuropathy


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