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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Feb 2024 - 16 Feb 2024

2024 Feb 07



Concurrent and lagged associations among pain medication use, pain, and negative affect: a daily diary study of people with chronic low back pain.


Burns JW, Gerhart J, Smith DA, Porter L, Rye B, Keefe F


People with chronic pain often attempt to manage pain and concurrent emotional distress with analgesic substances. Habitual use of such substances-even when not opioid-based-can pose side effect risks. A negative reinforcement model has been proposed whereby relief of pain and emotional distress following medication consumption increases the likelihood that the experience of elevated pain and distress will spur further medication use. People with chronic low back pain (N = 105) completed electronic diary assessments 5 times/day for 14 consecutive days. Lagged and cross-lagged analyses focused on links between time 1 pain and negative affect (NA) and time 2 analgesic medication use and vice versa. Sex differences were also explored. Primary results were as follows: (1) participants on average reported taking analgesic medication during 41.3% of the 3-hour reporting epochs (29 times over 14 days); (2) time 1 within-person increases in pain and NA predicted time 2 increases in the likelihood of ingesting analgesic medications; (3) time 1 within-person increases in medication use predicted time 2 decreases in pain and NA; and (4) lagged associations between time 1 pain/NA and time 2 medication use were strongest among women. Findings suggest that the use of analgesic medications for many people with chronic pain occurs frequently throughout the day. Results support the validity of a negative reinforcement model where pain and distress lead to pain medication use, which in turn leads to relief from pain and distress.