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Examining Gender as a Correlate of Self-Reported Pain Treatment Use Among Recent Service Veterans with Deployment-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Driscoll MA, Higgins D, Shamaskin-Garroway A, Burger A, Buta E, Goulet JL, Heapy A, Kerns RD, Brandt CA, Haskell SG. Examining Gender as a Correlate of Self-Reported Pain Treatment Use Among Recent Service Veterans with Deployment-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). 2017 Sep 1; 18(9):1767-1777.

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Objective: Women veterans with chronic pain utilize health care with greater frequency than their male counterparts. However, little is known about gender differences in the use of specialty pain care in this population. This investigation examined gender differences in self-reported use of opioids, interventional pain treatments, rehabilitation therapies, and complementary and integrative health (CIH) services for chronic pain treatment both within and outside of the Veterans Health Administration in a sample of veterans who served in support of recent conflicts. Methods: Participants included 325 veterans (54% women) who completed a baseline survey as part of the Women Veterans Cohort Study and reported deployment-related musculoskeletal conditions and chronic pain. Measures included self-reported use of pain treatment modalities, pain severity, self-rated health, access to specialty care, disability status, and presence of a mental health condition. Results: Men were more likely to report a persistent deployment-related musculoskeletal condition but were no more likely than women to report chronic pain. Overall, 21% of the sample reported using opioids, 27% used interventional strategies, 59% used rehabilitation therapies, and 57% used CIH services. No significant gender differences in use of any pain treatment modality were observed. Conclusions: Use of pain specialty services was common among men and women, particularly rehabilitative and CIH services. There were no gender differences in the self-reported use of different modalities. These results are inconsistent with documented gender differences in pain care. They encourage further examination of gender differences in preferences and other individual difference variables as predictors of specialty pain care utilization.

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