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Prevalence of comorbid chronic pain and mental health conditions in Canadian Armed Forces active personnel: Analysis of a cross-sectional survey

TitlePrevalence of comorbid chronic pain and mental health conditions in Canadian Armed Forces active personnel: Analysis of a cross-sectional survey
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsVun, E., Turner S., Mota N., Afifi T. O., Sareen J., and El-Gabalawy R.
JournalCMAJ Open
Volume6
PagesE528 - E536
Abstract

Background: Chronic pain conditions and mental disorders have high prevalence rates in military populations. However, few investigations have examined the comorbidity between chronic pain conditions and specific mental disorders among Canadian active military personnel. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of data from the 2013 Canadian Forces Mental Health Survey (CFMHS) concerning the population of regular members. Diagnostic interviews assessed the presence of mental disorders, and participants self-reported chronic pain conditions (i.e., arthritis, back problems, musculoskeletal conditions, migraines) and indicators of pain severity. We used multiple logistic regressions to assess associations between chronic pain conditions and mental disorders. We used cross-tabulations to assess the prevalence of pain severity indicators in comorbid relationships compared with the chronic pain condition alone. We used moderation analyses to examine the interactions between pain condition by pain severity, and pain condition by activity limitation, respectively, on mental disorders. Results: The CFMHS included data from 6696 regular members and had a response rate of 79.8%. About one-quarter (n = 1761) of military personnel reported having chronic pain. In the fully adjusted model, all assessed pain conditions were significantly associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (odds ratio [OR] range 1.86–2.55), and several pain conditions were associated with major depressive episode, generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Back problems were significantly associated with all mental disorders apart from alcohol use disorders (OR range 1.40–2.17). Cross-tabulations showed higher prevalence estimates of endorsement for pain severity indicators among pain conditions and comorbid mental disorders, compared with pain conditions alone. Formal moderation analyses showed a significant relationship between migraine and activity limitation on PTSD. Interpretation: Chronic pain conditions are prevalent and co-occur with mental disorders among Canadian regular force members. Greater understanding of these chronic pain conditions and mental disorders and their impact on people's abilities to adapt to both military and civilian life is needed.

URLhttp://cmajopen.ca/content/6/4/E528
DOI10.9778/cmajo.20180093
Document URLhttp://cmajopen.ca/content/6/4/E528.full.pdf