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Chronic pain and psychiatric disorders frequently co-occur. However, estimates of the magnitude of these associations have been biased by the use of select clinical samples. The present study utilized the National Comorbidity Survey [Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 51 (1994) 8–19] Part II data set to investigate the associations between a chronic pain condition (i.e. arthritis) and common mood and anxiety disorders in a sample representative of the general US civilian population. Participants (N=5877) completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview [World Health Organization (1990)], a structured interview for trained non-clinician interviewers based on the revised third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [American Psychiatric Association (1987)], and provided self-reports of pain and disability associated with a variety of medical conditions. Significant positive associations were found between chronic pain and individual 12-month mood and anxiety disorders [odds ratios (OR) ranged from 1.92 to 4.27]. The strongest associations were observed with panic disorder (OR=4.27) and post-traumatic stress disorder (OR=3.69). The presence of one psychiatric disorder was not significantly associated with pain-related disability, but the presence of multiple psychiatric disorders was significantly associated with increased disability. The findings of the present study raise the possibility that improved efforts regarding the detection and treatment of anxiety disorders may be required in pain treatment settings.