Sex differences in the medical care of VA patients with chronic non-cancer pain

Melissa Weimer, Tara A. Macey, Christina Nicolaidis, Steven Dobscha, Jonathan P. Duckart, Benjamin Morasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: Despite a growing number of women seeking medical care in the veterans affairs (VA) system, little is known about the characteristics of their chronic pain or the pain care they receive. This study sought to determine if sex differences are present in the medical care veterans received for chronic pain. Design: Retrospective cohort study using VA administrative data. Subjects: The subjects were 17,583 veteran patients with moderate to severe chronic non-cancer pain treated in the Pacific Northwest during 2008. Methods: Multivariate logistic regression assessed for sex differences in primary care utilization, prescription of chronic opioid therapy, visits to emergency departments for a pain-related diagnosis, and physical therapy referral. Results: Compared with male veterans, female veterans were more often diagnosed with two or more pain conditions, and had more of the following pain-related diagnoses: fibromyalgia, low back pain, inflammatory bowel disease, migraine headache, neck or joint pain, and arthritis. After adjustment for demographic characteristics, pain diagnoses, mental health diagnoses, substance use disorders, and medical comorbidity, women had lower odds of being prescribed chronic opioid therapy (adjusted OR [AOR] 0.67, 95% CI 0.58-0.78), greater odds of visiting an emergency department for a pain-related complaint (AOR 1.40, 95% CI 1.18-1.65), and greater odds of receiving physical therapy (AOR 1.19, 95% CI 1.05-1.33). Primary care utilization was not significantly different between sexes. Conclusions: Sex differences are present in the care female veterans receive for chronic pain. Further research is necessary to understand the etiology of the observed differences and their associations with clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1839-1847
Number of pages9
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Volume14
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2013

Fingerprint

Veterans
Sex Characteristics
Pain
Chronic Pain
Opioid Analgesics
Hospital Emergency Service
Primary Health Care
Northwestern United States
Fibromyalgia
Neck Pain
Arthralgia
Therapeutics
Low Back Pain
Migraine Disorders
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Arthritis
Substance-Related Disorders
Prescriptions
Comorbidity
Mental Health

Keywords

  • Chronic Opioid Therapy
  • Chronic Pain
  • Sex Differences
  • Veteran Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Cite this

Sex differences in the medical care of VA patients with chronic non-cancer pain. / Weimer, Melissa; Macey, Tara A.; Nicolaidis, Christina; Dobscha, Steven; Duckart, Jonathan P.; Morasco, Benjamin.

In: Pain Medicine (United States), Vol. 14, No. 12, 12.2013, p. 1839-1847.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Weimer, Melissa ; Macey, Tara A. ; Nicolaidis, Christina ; Dobscha, Steven ; Duckart, Jonathan P. ; Morasco, Benjamin. / Sex differences in the medical care of VA patients with chronic non-cancer pain. In: Pain Medicine (United States). 2013 ; Vol. 14, No. 12. pp. 1839-1847.
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