Conflict of interest: None declared.
ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE
Sex Differences in the Medical Care of VA Patients with Chronic Non-Cancer Pain
Article first published online: 26 JUN 2013
Wiley Periodicals, Inc
Volume 14, Issue 12, pages 1839–1847, December 2013
How to Cite
Weimer, M. B., Macey, T. A., Nicolaidis, C., Dobscha, S. K., Duckart, J. P. and Morasco, B. J. (2013), Sex Differences in the Medical Care of VA Patients with Chronic Non-Cancer Pain. Pain Medicine, 14: 1839–1847. doi: 10.1111/pme.12177
- Issue published online: 11 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 26 JUN 2013
- National Institute of Drug Abuse. Grant Number: K23DA023467
- Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI)
- National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS). Grant Number: UL1 RR024140
- Samuel F. Wise Trust
- Chronic Pain;
- Veteran Women;
- Sex Differences;
- Chronic Opioid Therapy
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.
Retrospective cohort study using VA administrative data.
The subjects were 17,583 veteran patients with moderate to severe chronic non-cancer pain treated in the Pacific Northwest during 2008.
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.
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.
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.