Pain and psychiatric comorbidities among two groups of Iraq-and Afghanistan-era veterans

Kristin M. Phillips, Michael E. Clark, Ronald J. Gironda, Suzanne McGarity, Robert W. Kerns, Christine A. Elnitsky, Elena M. Andresen, Rose C. Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


This study aimed to (1) identify the prevalence and severity of pain and psychiatric comorbidities among personnel who had been deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Operation New Dawn (OND) and (2) assess whether the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Polytrauma System of Care and an OIF/OEF/OND registry reflect real differences among patients. Participants (N = 359) were recruited from two VA hospitals. They completed a clinical interview, structured diagnostic interview, and self-report measures. Results indicated pain was the most common complaint, with 87% experiencing pain during the prior week and 56% reporting moderate or severe pain. Eighty percent of participants met criteria for at least one of seven assessed comorbid problems (moderate or severe pain, postconcussional disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD], anxiety disorder, mood disorder, substance use disorder, psychosis), and 59 percent met criteria for two or more problems. PTSD and postconcussional disorder rarely occurred in the absence of pain or other comorbidities (0.3% and 0%, respectively). The Polytrauma group had more comorbid psychiatric conditions (χ2 = 48.67, p< 0.05) and reported greater severity of symptoms (p < 0.05) than the Registry group. This study confirmed the high prevalence of pain and concurrent mental health problems among personnel returning from military deployment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-432
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Rehabilitation Research and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Afghanistan
  • Anxiety
  • Blast injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Combat disorders
  • Comorbidities
  • Depression
  • Iraq
  • PTSD
  • Postconcussive disorder
  • Sleep
  • Substance use disorder
  • TBI
  • Veterans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Pain and psychiatric comorbidities among two groups of Iraq-and Afghanistan-era veterans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this