COVID-19 psychological factors associated with pain status, pain intensity, and pain-related interference

Cogn Behav Ther. 2021 Nov;50(6):466-478. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2021.1874504. Epub 2021 Feb 10.


The 2019 novel SARS-CoV2 disease causing COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the world, and those with pain conditions may be at heightened risk for these negative consequences. Given COVID-19 limitations, including social distancing and stay-at-home orders, pain is likely largely going untreated, leading to greater pain and associated consequences. Mental health symptoms, which have been found to be elevated due to COVID-19, may contribute to elevated pain experience, but little work has examined how COVID-19-specific mental health factors may be associated with pain. Therefore, the current study examined (1) how COVID-19-specific psychological factors and general mental health symptoms differ between those with pain and without, and (2) among those with pain, which psychological factors were most strongly associated with pain experience. Results from a national (U.S. based) online sample of 174 adults (42.5% female, Mage = 37.80 years, SD = 11.30, 88 with pain) collected between April and May 2020 indicated that, compared to those individuals reporting no pain, those with pain reported significantly higher values on all variables. Additionally, COVID-19 fear and sleep problems were associated with pain intensity, and for pain-related interference, fear, sleep problems, and depression were significantly associated. These results highlight the potential importance of COVID-19-specific psychological factors in pain experience.

Keywords: COVID-19; mental health; pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*