Pain intensity and its association with negative mood states in patients with spinal cord injury

Dianah Rodrigues, Yvonne Tran, Nirupama Wijesuriya, Rebecca Guest, James Middleton, Ashley Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduciton: Chronic and persistent pain is a prevalent and debilitating secondary condition in patients with a neurological injury such as spinal cord injury (SCI). Patients with SCI have an increased risk of developing other co-morbid conditions such as elevated negative mood states. Arguably, the presence of chronic pain would act to intensify the chances of developing negative mood states as opposed to resilient mental states. The objective of this research was to investigate the association between pain intensity and levels of negative mood states in adult patients with SCI. Methods: Participants included 107 adults with SCI living in the community who completed an assessment regimen in a relaxed environment. Mean pain intensity over a period of 1 week and the Profile of Mood States, a validated psychometric measure of mood states (anxiety, depressed mood, anger, vigor, fatigue, confusion and total negative mood score) were used to determine associations between pain intensity and mood states. The sample was divided into a low pain intensity sub-group (<4 where 0 = no pain; 10 = worst pain imaginable) and a clinically significant or high pain intensity sub-group (≥4), allowing negative mood to be compared between the sub-groups. Results Mean age was 47.1 years, and 87% of the sample was male. Clinically significant pain intensity over the week prior to assessment was found in 52% of the 107 participants. The high pain intensity sub-group was found to have significantly elevated anxiety, depressed mood, anger, fatigue, confusion and significantly reduced vigor. Conclusion These results provide further evidence that patients with SCI experience clinically elevated negative mood states if they have intense levels of pain over extended periods of time. In contrast, patients without intense pain have mood states similar to those in the able-bodied community. Implications for the treatment of SCI are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalPain and Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Negative mood states
  • Pain intensity
  • Profile of Mood States
  • Spinal cord injury


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