Predictors of Pain 12 Months after Serious Injury
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OBJECTIVE: The majority of patients will report pain 12 months after a serious injury. Determining the independent risk factors for pain after serious injury will establish the degree to which high-risk patients can be detected in the acute setting and the viability of early triage to specialist pain services. DESIGN: A prospective cohort study of patients following serious injury was conducted. The initial assessment comprised a comprehensive battery of known and possible risk factors for persistent pain. Patients were assessed at 12 months for pain severity and for the presence of chronic pain. RESULTS: Two hundred ninety patients underwent an initial assessment of whom 238 (82%) were followed up at 12 months. At 12 months, 171 (72%) patients reported some pain over the past 24 hours. Thirty-five patients (14.7%) reported chronic pain. Five factors independently predicted the 24-hour pain severity: preinjury physical role function, preinjury employment status, initial 24 hours pain score, higher beliefs in the need for medication, and compensable injury (R(2) = 0.21, P < 0.0001). Four factors predicted the presence of chronic pain at 12 months: not working prior to injury, total Abbreviated Injury Scale, initial pain severity, and initial pain control attitudes (pseudo R(2) = 0.24, P = 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Factors present at the time of injury can allocate patients into high- or low-risk groups. The majority of cases of chronic pain emerging from the high-risk group warrant more intense clinical attention. We recommend recording these factors in discharge documentation as indicators of persistent pain.
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