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Pain catastrophising is a maladaptive cognitive response characterised by an exaggerated negative interpretation of pain experiences. It has been associated with greater disability and poorer outcomes in chronic pain, to include several specific oro-facial pain conditions. The goal of this study was to examine pain catastrophising at a military oro-facial pain specialty clinic. This retrospective chart review (RCR) examined information collected at initial examination from 699 new patients seen between September 2016 and August 2019 at the Orofacial Pain Center at the Naval Postgraduate Dental School (Bethesda, MD). Pain catastrophising, pain characteristics, psychosocial factors and sleep were assessed using standardised scales. Linear regression was used to evaluate associations of patient characteristics and pain intensity with pain catastrophising. Mediation analyses were done to characterise the extent to which the relationship between pain intensity and pain catastrophising may be explained by anxiety, depression and insomnia. Higher pain intensity, depression, anxiety, insomnia and younger age were each associated with higher pain catastrophising (all p < .05). A primary diagnosis of neuropathic pain was the strongest independent predictor of higher pain catastrophising. The relationship between pain intensity and pain catastrophising was partially mediated by anxiety, depression and insomnia. In this RCR of a population of oro-facial pain patients, those diagnosed with neuropathic pain were most likely to display high levels of pain catastrophising, a characteristic which is associated with poor long-term pain outcomes. This is the first study to show that, independent of other patient characteristics, those suffering from neuropathic pains displayed the highest levels of pain catastrophising. This highlights the importance of also addressing psychosocial factors in the treatment of neuropathic pain conditions, which are commonly treated using a predominantly biomedical approach. Additionally, anxiety, depression and insomnia each partially explains the relationship between pain intensity and pain catastrophising. Published 2021. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.


John E Dinan, Istvan A Hargitai, Nora Watson, Alexander Smith, John E Schmidt. Pain catastrophising in the oro-facial pain population. Journal of oral rehabilitation. 2021 Jun;48(6):643-653

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PMID: 33710632

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