Posttraumatic stress disorder and correlates of disease activity among veterans with ankylosing spondylitis

Jean Liew, J. Lucas Williams, Steven Dobscha, Jennifer Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The objective of this retrospective study was to evaluate the prevalence of comorbid Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the association of PTSD with pain, disease activity, and medication use in ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Veterans with one or more visit to an outpatient rheumatology clinic at a single Veterans Affairs site during a 2-year study period were identified by ICD codes for AS and included if there was documentation of AS diagnosis by a rheumatologist. Data were collected on PTSD diagnosis, demographics, pain scores, disease activity by the Bath AS Disease Activity Index (BASDAI), and medication use. Characteristics were compared by PTSD status using t tests for continuous variables and Chi-square or Fischer’s exact test for categorical variables. Of 113 Veterans with AS, 20 (18%) had a diagnosis of PTSD. Those with PTSD were significantly younger, 52 ± 17 years, as compared to those without PTSD, 59 ± 14 years (p = 0.04). BASDAI was recorded for 30% with a mean score of 4.3 ± 2.0. Those with PTSD had higher mean pain and BASDAI scores as compared to those without PTSD (p = 0.06 for both comparisons). Prescribed medications were similar for both groups in regards to synthetic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologics, and opioids, although those with PTSD were significantly more likely to receive NSAIDs (p = 0.03). Veterans with AS and comorbid PTSD were younger and had higher reported pain and disease activity scores compared to those without PTSD in this single site study. These findings underscore the importance of identifying PTSD in patients with AS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1765-1769
Number of pages5
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017


  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Disease activity
  • Pain
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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