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Differences in symptoms, functioning, and quality of life between women on long-term sick-leave with musculoskeletal pain with and without concomitant depression

Authors Brodda Jansen G, Linder J, Schüldt Ekholm K, Ekholm J

Published 3 August 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 281—292

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JMDH.S21827

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Gunilla Brodda Jansen1,2, Jürgen Linder3, Kristina Schüldt Ekholm4,5, Jan Ekholm2,4
1Department of Pain Management, Capio St Göran’s Hospital, 2Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Rehabilitation Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Danderyd Hospital, 3Diagnostic Centre, Division of Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, 4Stockholm Rehabilitation Medicine University Clinic, Danderyd Hospital; 5Section of Rehabilitation Science, Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Campus Östersund, Sweden

Objective: The aim was to describe the differences in symptoms, functioning and quality of life between women on long-term sick-leave due to protracted musculoskeletal pain with and without concomitant depression.
Design: Descriptive and comparisons with/without comorbid depression.
Methods: 332 female patients were examined by three specialist physicians in psychiatry, orthopedic surgery, and rehabilitation medicine and assigned to four groups according to the ICD-10 diagnoses: low back/joint disorders (LBJ, n = 150), myalgia (M, n = 43), fibromyalgia (FM, n = 87), or depression without somatic pain diagnosis (DE, n = 52).
Results: Patients with somatic pain conditions LBJ, M, or FM showed more activity-related difficulties if concomitant depression was present during the activities ‘focusing attention’, ‘making decisions’, and ‘undertaking a single task’; and in the domains ‘energy level’, ‘memory functions’, ‘emotional functions’, and ‘optimism/pessimism’. Patients with FM and concomitant depression perceived higher pain intensity than patients in group DE. No statistically significant differences in physically related activities were noted between each of the somatic pain conditions with and without coexisting depression. FM patients with coexisting depression reported fewer painful sites on their pain drawings compared with FM-patients without depression. Patients with LBJ or FM and concomitant depression reported lower quality of life in the dimensions vitality, social functioning, emotional role, and mental health. Comorbid depression affected disability and restricted working capacity by reducing mental activity and functioning but not by affecting physical activity problems.
Conclusion: Women on long-term sick-leave, who have concomitant depression with LBJ or FM, also have more difficulties in focusing attention, making decisions, and carrying out tasks, and with memory functions and optimism/pessimism, as well as reduced quality of life in the dimensions of vitality, social functioning, emotional role, and mental health, than female patients without comorbid depression. As a consequence we suggest further efforts to integrate somatic and psychiatric interventions in the same rehabilitation program.

Keywords: chronic pain, depression, comorbidity, disability, sick-leave, quality of life


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