The importance of catastrophizing for successful pharmacological treatment of peripheral neuropathic pain

J Pain Res. 2014 Jun 24;7:327-38. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S56883. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

Objective: Catastrophizing may be a negative predictor of pain-related outcomes. We evaluated the impact of catastrophizing upon success of first-line pharmacotherapy in the management of neuropathic pain (NeP) due to peripheral polyneuropathy.

Methods: Patients with confirmed NeP with NeP Visual Analog Scale (VAS) pain severity score ≥4 (0-10 scale) completed the Coping Strategies Questionnaire (CSQ) catastrophizing subscale at baseline. Pharmacological therapy consisting of first-line agents gabapentin, pregabalin, or a tricyclic antidepressant was initiated. Other measures examined included the Karnofsky Performance Scale, Beck Depression Inventory, EuroQol Quality of Life Health Questionnaire, and Modified Brief Pain Inventory. At 3 and 6 months, questionnaires were repeated and adverse effect reporting was completed. Outcome measures assessed were pharmacotherapy success (≥30% relief of NeP) and tolerability over 6 months of follow-up. Bivariate relationships using Pearson product-moment correlations were examined for baseline CSQ catastrophizing subscale score and the change in the NeP VAS scores and medication discontinuation.

Results: Sixty-six patients were screened, 62 subjects participated, and 58 subjects (94%) completed the final follow-up visit. Greater catastrophizing was associated with poor pain relief response and greater likelihood of discontinuation of pharmacotherapy, reports of greater disability, and impaired quality of life. Duration of pain was negatively associated with likelihood of pharmacotherapy success.

Conclusion: Catastrophizing exerts maladaptive effects on outcomes with pharmacotherapy in NeP patients. Detection of catastrophizing during clinical visits when pharmacological therapy is being considered can be a predictive factor for patient outcomes.

Keywords: catastrophizing; coping; neuropathic pain; pharmacotherapy.