Trajectories and Individual Differences in Pain, Emotional Distress, and Prescription Opioid Misuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A One-Year Longitudinal Study

Chung Jung Mun, Claudia M. Campbell, Lakeya S. McGill, Stephen T. Wegener, Rachel V. Aaron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Recent studies suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic can serve as a unique psychosocial stressor that can negatively impact individuals with chronic pain. Using a large online sample in the U.S., the present study sought to investigate the impact of the pandemic on the trajectories of pain severity and interference, emotional distress (ie, anxiety and depressive symptoms), and opioid misuse behaviors across one year. Potential moderating effects of socio-demographic factors and individual differences in pain catastrophizing, pain acceptance, and sleep disturbance on outcome trajectories were also examined. Adults with chronic pain were surveyed three times across 1 year (April/May 2020 [N = 1,453]; June/July 2020 [N = 878], and May 2021 [N = 813]) via Amazon's Mechanical Turk online crowdsourcing platform. Mixed-effects growth models revealed that pain severity and interference, emotional distress, and opioid misuse behaviors did not significantly deteriorate across one year during the pandemic. None of the socio-demographic factors, pain catastrophizing, or sleep disturbance moderated outcome trajectories. However, individuals with higher pain acceptance reported greater improvement in pain severity (P< .008, 95% CI: -.0002, -.00004) and depressive symptoms (P< .001, 95% CI: -.001, -.0004) over time. Our findings suggest that the negative impact of the pandemic on pain, emotional distress, and opioid misuse behaviors is quite small overall. The outcome trajectories were also stable across different socio-demographic factors, as well as individual differences in pain catastrophizing and sleep disturbance. Nevertheless, interventions that target improvement of pain acceptance may help individuals with chronic pain be resilient during the pandemic. Perspective: Individuals with chronic pain overall did not experience significant exacerbation of pain, emotional distress, and opioid misuse across one year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with higher pain acceptance showed greater improvement in pain severity and depressive symptoms over time during the pandemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1234-1244
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain
Volume23
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Sleep
  • anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • opioid
  • pain acceptance
  • pain catastrophizing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Trajectories and Individual Differences in Pain, Emotional Distress, and Prescription Opioid Misuse During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A One-Year Longitudinal Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this