OBJECTIVE: Chronic pain affects a significant number of individuals in the United States and is associated with several negative health-related outcomes, including possibility of opioid misuse and disability. The identification of factors associated with both opioid misuse and disability is of critical public health importance, and significant research suggests that pain severity has been shown to be associated with both. Pain-related anxiety has been uniquely associated with both opioid misuse and disability, yet little research has examined pain-related anxiety as a potential mechanism linking pain severity with opioid misuse and disability.
METHOD: Therefore, the current study examined whether pain-related anxiety explains, in part, the relationship between pain severity, opioid misuse, and disability among 396 adults with chronic pain (55.8% female, Mage 36.61, SD 11.40).
RESULTS: Cross-sectional analyses indicated that pain-related anxiety significantly mediated the relationship between pain severity, opioid misuse outcomes, and psychosocial disability, but not physical disability.
CONCLUSIONS: These results build upon the literature indicating the importance of pain-related anxiety in those with chronic pain by suggesting this construct may account, in part, for the relation of pain intensity to opioid misuse and psychosocial disability. Future research should longitudinally examine these associations.