Social Support and Pain Outcomes After Trauma Exposure Among Older Adults: A Multicenter Longitudinal Study

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Objectives:Certain forms of social support have been shown to improve pain-coping behaviors and pain outcomes in older adults with chronic pain, but little is known about the effect of social support on pain outcomes in older adults following trauma exposure.Methods:We analyzed data from a prospective longitudinal study of adults aged 65 years and older presenting to an emergency department after a motor vehicle collision (MVC) to characterize the relationship between perceived social support and MVC-related pain after trauma overall and by subgroups based on sex, depressive symptoms, and marital status.Results:In our sample (N=176), patients with low perceived social support had higher pain severity 6 weeks after MVC than patients with high perceived social support after adjustment for age, sex, race, and education (4.2 vs. 3.2, P=0.04). The protective effect of social support on pain severity at 6 weeks was more pronounced in men and in married individuals. Patients with low social support were less likely to receive an opioid prescription in the emergency department (15% vs. 32%, P=0.03), but there was no difference in opioid use at 6 weeks (22% vs. 20%, P=0.75).Discussion:Among older adults experiencing trauma, low perceived social support was associated with higher levels of pain at 6 weeks.

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