Introduction: Little is known about perception of physical pain in schizophrenia (SZ). Some studies have suggested that patients with SZ may have an increased pain threshold, while others have suggested that patients with SZ may suffer from undetected and untreated high physical pain levels. The objectives of this study were (i) to investigate the prevalence of self-reported physical pain in stabilized SZ subjects, and (ii) to determine whether physical pain was associated with psychiatric characteristics and somatic comorbidities (iii) to determine whether antidepressants and benzodiazepine administration were associated with lower self-reported pain.
Method: 468 community-dwelling stable SZ subjects (73% men, mean aged 32 years) were recruited in the Schizophrenia Expert Center national network. Patients with moderate to extreme pain, assessed with the EQ5D-5L questionnaire, were classified as belonging to the "pain group".
Results: 104 (22.2%) reported moderate to extreme pain levels. In multivariate analysis, pain has been associated with headache (OR = 2.63 [1.04-6.63], p = 0.04), higher anxiety (OR = 1.61 [1.18-2.21], p = 0.003), higher current depressive symptoms (OR = 1.09 [1.01-1.17], p = 0.03), history of childhood trauma (1.03 [1.01-1.06], p = 0.01) and older age (OR = 1.04 [1.01-1.07], p = 0.03), independently of current psychotic severity, sociodemographic variables, antipsychotic, antidepressant and benzodiazepine treatments. No association with addictive behaviors or illness characteristics has been found.
Conclusion: The present findings suggest that community-dwelling SZ outpatients report a high rate of self-reported physical pain, associated with headache, depression and anxiety and history of childhood trauma. Physical pain should be systematically assessed and specifically treated, when needed, in patients with SZ.
Keywords: Anxiety; Childhood trauma; Depression; Headache; Physical pain; Schizophrenia.
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