Psychological Flexibility, Pain Characteristics and Risk of Opioid Misuse in Noncancerous Chronic Pain Patients

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Chronic pain has an estimated annual prevalence rate between 10 and 35%. In the US, first-line treatment for chronic pain is often opioids. Objective: To our knowledge, this is the first study exploring psychological flexibility and its association with pain severity, pain interference and risk of opioid misuse in chronic pain patients. Methods: Data were collected at two outpatient pain clinics in the northeastern United States. Adults (N = 99) completed a cross-sectional survey with validated measures. Pain severity and pain interference were hypothesized to uniquely predict the risk of opioid misuse. Pain severity was hypothesized to predict pain interference. Finally, psychological flexibility was hypothesized as an indirect effect in these relationships. Results: Main findings suggest that pain severity predicts risk of opioid misuse, mediated by psychological flexibly. Pain interference also predicts risk of opioid misuse, mediated by psychological flexibility. Finally, results suggest pain severity predicts pain interference, mediated by psychological flexibility. Discussion: Implications of findings are discussed in terms of future psychological and medical assessments and interventions for chronic pain patients seeking prescription opioids.

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Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings

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