Prevalence and Correlates of Low Pain Interference Among Patients With High Pain Intensity Who Are Prescribed Long-Term Opioid Therapy

Melissa H. Adams, Steven K. Dobscha, Ning X. Smith, Bobbi Jo Yarborough, Richard A. Deyo, Benjamin J. Morasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The pain experience may vary greatly among individuals reporting equally high levels of pain. We sought to examine the demographic and clinical characteristics associated with pain interference in patients with high pain intensity. Among patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain who were prescribed long-term opioid therapy and who were recruited from 2 health care systems, we identified a subset who reported high pain intensity (n = 189). All individuals completed self-report assessments of clinical and demographic factors. Analyses examined characteristics associated with pain interference. Within this group of patients with high reported pain intensity, 16.4% (n = 31) had low pain interference, 39.2% (n = 74) had moderate pain interference, and 44.4% (n = 84) had high pain interference. In bivariate analyses, patients with lower pain interference had fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, less pain catastrophizing, a better quality of life, and greater self-efficacy for managing pain. In multivariate analyses, variables most strongly associated with low pain interference, relative to high interference, were depression severity (odds ratio 0.90; 95% confidence interval 0.82-0.99) and pain self-efficacy (odds ratio 1.07; 95% confidence interval 1.02-1.12). Study results suggest that chronic pain treatments that address symptoms of depression and enhance pain self-efficacy may be prioritized, particularly among patients who are prescribed long-term opioid therapy. Perspective: This article describes the prevalence and correlates of pain interference categories (low, medium, and high) among patients with high pain intensity who are prescribed long-term opioid therapy. Findings reveal that 16.4% of participants with high pain intensity had low impairment. Multivariate analyses indicate that variables significantly associated with low pain interference were lower depression scores and greater pain self-efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1074-1081
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Pain interference
  • biopsychosocial model
  • depression
  • prescription opioids
  • self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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