Predictors of Daily Pain Medication Use in Individuals with Recurrent Back Pain

Int J Behav Med. 2018 Apr;25(2):252-258. doi: 10.1007/s12529-017-9686-8.


Purpose: A key component to chronic pain management regimens is the use of analgesic medications. Psychological factors, such as mood states, may also affect the use of pain medications for individuals with chronic pain, but few observational studies have examined how these factors may predict pain medication use at the daily level.

Methods: Daily assessments from 104 individuals with back pain were used to examine fluctuations in daily pain intensity, mood, sleep quality, and physical activity as predictors of the likelihood of pain medication (opioid and non-opioid) use and levels of medication use on the same day.

Results: Pain intensity and mood ratings significantly predicted whether participants used pain medication on the same day, while only pain intensity predicted whether participants used more medication than usual. Further, current opioid users were more likely to increase the amount of their medication use on days of higher pain.

Discussion: This article identifies fluctuations in daily pain intensity and mood as salient predictors of daily pain medication use in individuals with recurrent back pain. The current study is among the first to highlight both pain and mood states as predictors of daily pain medication use in individuals with back pain, though future studies may expand on these findings through the use of higher-resolution daily medication use variables.

Keywords: Daily diaries; Medication use; Mood; Opioid medications; Pain intensity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect
  • Aged
  • Analgesics / administration & dosage*
  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Back Pain / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Pain / drug therapy*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics
  • Analgesics, Opioid