Psychosocial Profiles of People With Pain Associated With Spinal Cord Injury: Identification and Comparison With Other Chronic Pain Syndromes

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Abstract

Objectives:

The objectives of the study were to: (1) identify psychosocial profiles of people with pain associated with spinal cord injuries (SCI), and (2) compare the psychosocial profiles with other chronic pain syndromes.

Methods:

History questionnaires and the Multidimensional Pain Inventory (MPI) were mailed to 159 persons with chronic pain and SCIs (SCICP) and 120 (75.5%) agreed to participate.

Results:

Cluster analysis of MPI scores identified 2 subgroups of SCICP. One (42.5%) was characterized by high Pain Severity (PS), Affective Distress (AD), Life Interference (LI), and low Life Control (LC) similar to a previously identified cluster labeled Dysfunctional. The second (57.5%) was characterized by low PS, AD, LI, and high levels of LC and activity (GA), similar to the Adaptive Copers (AC) cluster identified in previous studies with the exception that the scores were lower on Support (S), Solicitous Responses (SR), and Negative Responses (NR) and higher on Distracting Responses (DR). Both subgroups were similar to those observed in other chronic pain syndromes (CPSs). People with SCIs differed significantly from heterogeneous chronic pain and chronic headaches in that they indicated less inference of pain with activities. They also scored lower on S. SCICP reported comparable levels of LI, LC, AD, S, SR, but greater levels of PS compared with a group of people with post-polio syndrome.

Discussion:

The similarities and differences between SCI and other CPSs suggest that although a general measure assessing psychosocial impact can be used across pain syndromes, it is important to use different norms for comparison of particular pain syndromes. The failure to identify a subgroup of patients characterized by low levels of S and high levels of NR, and the low SR and DR for SCICP compared with other CPSs warrants examination.

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