Patients Presenting to the Emergency Department with Acute Pain: The Significant Role of Pain Catastrophizing and State Anxiety

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Abstract

Objective. Pain is one of the most common reasons for emergency department (ED) visits. Given the significant association of psychological variables and pain experience, it is critical to examine the relation of such factors with ED pain reports. This study sought to analyze the association of reported pain intensity in ED with pain catastrophizing and state anxiety.

Methods. One hundred participants presenting with a primary complaint of acute pain in an urban ED completed the study. The measures included a demographic survey with questions pertaining to pain intensity, type and duration of present pain, the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-State Subscale (STAI-S).

Results. Pain intensity was significantly and positively associated with pain catastrophizing and state anxiety. Follow-up PROCESS mediation analysis revealed a significant indirect effect of pain catastrophizing on the relationship between state anxiety and pain intensity.

Conclusions. The results suggest that it is important to assess the psychological distress due to anxiety and pain catastrophizing of patients presenting to EDs with acute pain. Setting-appropriate brief behavioral interventions in conjunction with pharmacological interventions could improve outcomes.

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