A new study published online June 30 in JAMA Internal Medicine is the first to assess chronic pain prevalence and opioid use in a non–treatment-seeking, active duty infantry population following deployment, according to the authors. The study found that 44 percent of combat soldiers report experiencing chronic pain, and about one-quarter of those soldiers report opioid use during the past-month.
A total of 2,597 soldiers (93.1% male) who had been deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq were included in the final study sample. Significant correlations were seen for chronic pain with age ≥30 years; being married or having been married; injury during combat; combat intensity; posttraumatic stress disorder; and major depressive disorder. Correlations for opioid use included Sex, age ≥25 years, being married, rank, injury during combat, chronic pain, and pain severity. The findings point to the need for balancing the benefits of opioid therapy against the risks, including abuse potential, in this population. Read a news story about the findings, with link to the journal abstract, here.