Gender moderates the association between depression and disability in chronic pain patients

Edmund Keogh, L M McCracken, C Eccleston

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Pain-related anxiety and depression are important correlates of disability amongst chronic pain patients. Furthermore, women may differ in their experience of pain, anxiety and depression when compared to men. The aim of the current study was to determine the relative contribution of anxiety and depression on disability in male and female chronic pain patients. The sample consisted of 260 patients (101 males, 159 females) referred to the Pain Management Unit at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases in Bath, UK. As part of an initial assessment, all patients completed measures of depression, pain-related anxiety and disability. As predicted, both anxiety and depression were found to be significant positive predictors of pain, number of medications used and disability. Although gender did not significantly predict disability, it did moderate the relationship between depression and disability, in that when depression was high, women report greater disability than men. Gender was also found to moderate the relationship between depression and number of medications used, in that a positive association was found for men, but not women. However, gender did not significantly moderate the relationship between anxiety and disability. Together these results not only suggest that gender is an important moderator of the relationship between emotional responses and disability, but that such associations may be related more to depression than anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-422
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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