Author(s): Haskell SG, Heapy A, Reid MC, Papas RK, Kerns RD
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Women veterans are a growing but understudied population believed to be at increased risk for pain problems. Because of risk factors and clinical observations, we hypothesized that women veterans might have a high prevalence of pain and, thus, sought to determine the prevalence of (and age-related variations in) pain and to characterize several key pain dimensions in a sample of women veterans. METHODS: Women with routine appointments at the VA Connecticut Women's Health Center were recruited for study. Participants completed a 59-item questionnaire that provided information about their demographic, clinical, and pain status, as well as use of health services. RESULTS: Of 236 women approached, 213 (89\%) completed the questionnaire. The mean age was 52 years, and most (78\%) reported an ongoing pain problem. For those reporting pain, the mean duration of pain was 6 years, average pain intensity was 6.3 (range 1-10), and commonly endorsed pain sites included lower extremity (68\%), low back (63\%), and shoulder (48\%). The most frequently endorsed treatment (by 80\%) was analgesic medication use. Across the four age categories (20-35, 36-50, 51-65, and > or =66 years), pain prevalences were 64\%, 89\%, 83\%, and 69\%, respectively. Although pain intensity levels did not vary across age groups, older women (> or =66) reported using fewer pain treatments, including analgesic medications. Finally, those with (vs. those without) pain reported a greater number of medical and mental health visits in the preceding year. CONCLUSIONS: This study documented a significantly high prevalence of pain among a sample of women veterans receiving primary care in a VA women's health clinic.
This article was published in J Womens Health (Larchmt)
and referenced in Journal of Palliative Care & Medicine