Despite high rates of comorbidity between pain and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), little is known about factors that may account for this association. Previous research demonstrates that anxiety sensitivity (AS), the tendency to fear bodily sensations associated with anxious arousal, is elevated among patients with these conditions. However, no research to date has examined whether AS explains the association between pain and PTSD symptom severity.
The current sample included 115 veterans with a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (i.e., PTSD or subthreshold PTSD) presenting for psychological services to an outpatient PTSD clinic at a Veterans Affairs hospital.
Findings revealed a significant association between self-reported pain and PTSD symptom severity that was indirect via AS and in particular, AS cognitive concerns.
These findings, though limited by their cross-sectional nature, provide support for AS as a risk factor for perceived pain and PTSD symptoms, particularly among veteran samples.