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Interaction of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Chronic Pain following Traumatic Brain Injury

Bryant, Richard A. PhD; Marosszeky, Jeno E. MB, BS; Crooks, Jenelle RN; Baguley, Ian J. MB, BS; Gurka, Joseph A. MB, BS

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: December 1999 - Volume 14 - Issue 6 - p 588–594
Brief Reports

Objective: To investigate the association between posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain in patients who had sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Design: Correlational relationships between pain variables and PTSD measures were examined in a cohort study.

Setting: An adult tertiary care center brain injury clinic.

Patients: Ninety-six persons with severe TBI.

Outcome Measures: The Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Interview (PTSD-I), a modified McGill Pain Questionnaire, the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), the Community Integration Questionnaire (CIQ), the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWL), and the Coping Style Questionnaire (CSQ).

Results: More persons with chronic pain reported PTSD than did those without pain. The relationship between pain severity and depression, functional adjustment, and satisfaction with life was mediated by severity of PTSD. Pain severity was significantly associated with an avoidant coping style.

Conclusions: Effective rehabilitation of persons with chronic pain following severe TBI should recognize the role of posttraumatic stress in the maintenance of dysfunctional reactions. Specific interventions that address adaptive coping mechanisms to reduce PTSD may enhance rehabilitation for persons with TBI who suffer chronic pain.

Associate Professor, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia (Bryant)

Rehabilitation Specialist (Marosszeky) (Baguley)

Rehabilitation Nurse (Crooks)

Rehabilitation Specialist, Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, Australia (Gurka)

Address correspondence to Richard A. Bryant, PhD, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, NSW, 2052, Australia, email

This research was supported by grants from NH & MRC and the Motor Accident Authority of NSW.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.