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Driscoll MA, Higgins DM, Seng EK, Buta E, Goulet JL, Heapy AA, Kerns RD, Brandt CA, Haskell SG. Trauma, social support, family conflict, and chronic pain in recent service veterans: does gender matter? Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.). 2015 Jun 1; 16(6):1101-11.
OBJECTIVE: Women veterans have a higher prevalence of chronic pain relative to men. One hypothesis is that differential combat and traumatic sexual experiences and attenuated levels of social support between men and women may differentially contribute to the development and perpetuation of pain. This investigation examined  gender differences in trauma, social support, and family conflict among veterans with chronic pain, and  whether trauma, social support, and family conflict were differentially associated with pain severity, pain interference, and depressive symptom severity as a function of gender. METHODS: Participants included 460 veterans (56% female) who served in support of recent conflicts, and who endorsed pain lasting 3 months or longer. Participants completed a baseline survey during participation in a longitudinal investigation. Self-report measures included pain severity, pain interference, depressive symptom severity, exposure to traumatic life events, emotional and tangible support, and family conflict. RESULTS: Relative to men, women veterans reporting chronic pain evidenced higher rates of childhood interpersonal trauma (51% vs 34%; P? < 0.001) and military sexual trauma (54% vs 3%; P? < 0.001), along with lower levels of combat exposure (10.00 vs 16.85, P? < 0.001). Gender was found to be a moderator of the association of marital status, combat exposure, childhood interpersonal trauma, and family conflict with pain interference. It also moderated family conflict in the prediction of depressive symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: Results underscore the potential importance of developing and testing gender specific models of chronic pain that consider the relative roles of trauma, social support, and family conflict.