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Pain behavior mediates the relationship between perceived injustice and opioid prescription for chronic pain: a Collaborative Health Outcomes Information Registry study

Authors Carriere JS, Martel MO, Kao MC, Sullivan MJL, Darnall BD

Received 19 November 2016

Accepted for publication 19 January 2017

Published 7 March 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 557—566

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S128184

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Robinson

Junie S Carriere,1 Marc-Olivier Martel,2,3 Ming-Chih Kao,4 Michael JL Sullivan,5 Beth D Darnall4

1Department of Psychology, 2Faculty of Dentistry, 3Department of Anesthesia, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada; 4Division of Pain Medicine, Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain Laboratory, Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, CA, USA; 5Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, University of Queensland, Herston, QLD, Australia

Background and purpose: Perceived injustice has been defined as an appraisal regarding the severity and irreparability of loss associated with pain, blame and a sense of unfairness. Recent findings have identified perceived injustice as an important risk factor for pain-related outcomes. Studies suggest that perceived injustice is associated with opioid prescription in patients with pain conditions. However, the mechanisms by which perceived injustice is linked to opioid prescription are not well understood. The primary objective of this study was to examine the potential mediating roles of pain intensity, depressive symptoms and pain behavior in the association between perceived injustice and opioid prescription among patients with chronic pain.
Methods: This cross-sectional study used a sample of 344 patients with chronic pain being treated at a tertiary pain treatment center. Participants completed measures of perceived injustice, pain intensity, depressive symptoms, pain behavior and opioid prescription. Bootstrapped multiple mediation analyses were used to examine the mediating role of patients’ pain intensity, depressive symptoms and pain behavior in the association between perceived injustice and opioid prescription.
Results: Consistent with previous research, we found a significant association between perceived injustice and opioid prescription. Interestingly, results revealed that pain behavior was the only variable that mediated the association between perceived injustice and opioid prescription.
Conclusion: This study was the first to examine the mechanisms by which perceived injustice is associated with opioid prescription in patients with chronic pain. We found that pain behavior, rather than pain intensity and depressive symptoms, mediated the association between perceived injustice and opioid prescription. Future research in this area should employ a longitudinal research design in order to arrive at clearer causal conclusions about the relationships between pain behavior, perceived injustice and opioid prescription.

Keywords: perceived injustice, pain intensity, depression, pain behavior, opioids, chronic pain, CHOIR

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