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Reciprocal Effects Between Depressive Symptoms and Pain in Veterans over 50 Years of Age or Older.

Griffin SC, Young JR, Naylor JC, Allen KD, Beckham JC, Calhoun PS. Reciprocal Effects Between Depressive Symptoms and Pain in Veterans over 50 Years of Age or Older. Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). 2022 Feb 1; 23(2):295-304.

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OBJECTIVE: Depression and chronic pain are major problems in American veterans, yet there is limited long-term research examining how they relate to one another in this population. This study examined the relationship between depressive symptoms and pain in U.S. veterans 50 years of age or older. METHODS: This study used data on veterans from the 2002-2016 waves of the Health and Retirement Study (n? = 4,302), a large-scale observational study of Americans 50 years of age or older. Measures included a short form of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and two items assessing the presence and degree of pain. Analyses included random-intercept cross-lagged panel models (RI-CLPM). RESULTS: In the RI-CLPM, there were roughly equivalent cross-lagged effects between depressive symptoms and pain. There was also evidence that depressive symptoms and pain have a trait-like component and that these trait-like characteristics are associated. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that depressive symptoms and pain in veterans are stable characteristics in American veterans 50 years of age or older. There appear to be reciprocal effects between the two, whereby deviations in one's typical depressive symptoms predict subsequent deviations in one's pain level and vice versa; however, the size of these effects is very small. These findings suggest that clinicians should treat both depressive symptoms and pain, rather than assume that treatment benefits in one domain will lead to major benefits in another.

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