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Pain Research and Management
Volume 18 (2013), Issue 4, Pages 185-190
Original Article

Psychiatric Morbidity in Pain Conditions: Results from the Singapore Mental Health Study

Mythily Subramaniam, Janhavi Ajit Vaingankar, Edimansyah Abdin, and Siow Ann Chong

Research Division, Institute of Mental Health, Buangkok, Singapore

Copyright © 2013 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is a common problem among the general population and has been found to be associated with psychiatric disorders in studies based on both clinical samples and epidemiological surveys.

OBJECTIVES: To establish the prevalence, correlates and comorbidities of chronic pain disorders among the adult population of Singapore.

METHODS: The data used in the present analysis were derived from the Singapore Mental Health Study, a cross-sectional epidemiological survey of a representative sample of the adult resident population of Singapore. Diagnoses of psychiatric disorders were established using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview version 3.0. A modified version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0 checklist of chronic medical disorders was used, in which the chronic medical disorders were reclassified into eight types of physical disorders. Chronic pain disorders included arthritis or rheumatism, back problems including disk or spine problems, and migraine headaches.

RESULTS: The lifetime prevalence estimates for arthritis, back pain and migraine in the Singapore general population were 6.0% (n=282), 7.0% (n=436) and 5.6% (n=446), respectively. After adjusting for sociodemographic factors, comorbid pain disorders and the presence of other chronic physical conditions, migraine remained significantly associated with major depressive disorder (adjusted OR=2.4), generalized anxiety disorder (adjusted OR=3.0) and alcohol use disorders (adjusted OR=2.1), while back pain was significantly associated with major depressive disorder (adjusted OR=2.0).

CONCLUSIONS: The significant association between pain and psychiatric disorders emphasizes the need to screen individuals with chronic pain conditions for psychiatric disorders, particularly depression. There is a need to develop integrated pharmacological and psychological treatments for both conditions.