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Pain conditions among veterans with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Birgenheir DG, Ilgen MA, Bohnert AS, Abraham KM, Bowersox NW, Austin K, Kilbourne AM. Pain conditions among veterans with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. General hospital psychiatry. 2013 Sep 1; 35(5):480-4.

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OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the rates of chronic, noncancer pain conditions in patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) System. METHOD: This cross-sectional study used administrative data extracted from VHA treatment records of all individuals receiving VHA services in fiscal year 2008 (N = 5,195,551). The associations between severe psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) and chronic pain (arthritis, back pain, chronic pain, migraine, headache, psychogenic and neuropathic) were evaluated using a series of logistic regression analyses. RESULTS: Veterans with schizophrenia [odds ratio (OR) = 1.21] and bipolar disorder (OR = 2.17) were significantly more likely to have chronic pain overall relative to veterans without these psychiatric conditions. These associations were slightly lower than for the association between depression and pain in this sample (OR = 2.61). The highest associations between specific psychiatric diagnosis and pain condition were found with chronic pain, headache and psychogenic pain. CONCLUSIONS: Noncancer pain conditions occur in elevated rates among patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Future research could further examine possible barriers to adequate pain treatment among people with serious mental illness, as well as the extent to which chronic pain might impact mental health recovery.

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