Pain, Pain Catastrophizing, and History of Intentional Overdoses and Attempted Suicide
The management of pain patients with analgesics is challenging, with one of the risks being overdose with prescribed medications and death. In this study, we examined relationships between pain and pain catastrophizing, and past history of intentional overdoses and suicide attempts.
Using a cross-sectional approach and a self-report survey methodology, we examined 239 consecutive internal medicine outpatients in the United States. We inquired about pain “today, over the past month,” and “over the past year;” and assessed pain catastrophizing with the Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS), past histories of intentional overdoses, and suicide attempts.
There were statistically significant relationships between all of the pain variables, as well as PCS scores, and history of intentional overdoses. There were also statistically significant relationships between all of the pain variables, as well as PCS scores, and history of suicide attempts.
Although we cannot discern causal relationships, findings indicate that patients with pain complaints and pain catastrophizing have a greater likelihood of having past histories of intentional overdoses and suicide attempts. We discuss the potential implications of these findings.