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Papers of the Week

Papers: 7 Oct 2023 - 13 Oct 2023


PLoS One




Flourishing mental health despite disabling chronic pain: Findings from a nationally representative sample of Canadians with arthritis.


Fuller-Thomson E, Marshall DJ, Moses M, Abudiab S


This study aims to determine the prevalence of, and factors associated with, the “absence of psychiatric disorders” (APD) and “complete mental health” (CMH) among individuals with arthritis who report disabling chronic pain. There are three aspects of CMH: a) APD; b) happiness and/or life satisfaction in the past month on a daily or almost daily basis, and c) high levels of psychological and social well-being. A secondary analysis of a nationally representative sample (n = 620) of individuals with arthritis who report chronic and debilitating pain was conducted. Data were drawn from the Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health. The results of this study indicate that many people with arthritis who are living with disabling chronic pain are free of psychiatric disorders (76%) and are in CMH (56%). Factors associated with higher odds of APD and CMH among the sample include having a confidant, being free from insomnia, and having no lifetime history of major depressive disorder and/or generalized anxiety disorder. White respondents were almost 3-fold more likely to be in a state of CMH compared to racialized individuals. Respondents in the top 50% of household incomes were almost 4-fold more likely to be APD compared to the lowest 10%. In conclusion, many individuals with arthritis have excellent mental health despite disabling pain. Clinicians should be attuned to the mental health of their patients, with particular focus on those who may be more vulnerable to adverse mental health outcomes, such as racialized individuals, those in impoverished households, and those who lack social support.