A study by a VCU Medical student found that female chronic pain sufferers, who fixate on symptoms, report greater pain intensity and are more likely to have an opioid prescription.
Yassamin Sharifzadeh was a researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine when she led the study. She found that catastrophizing pain is more likely to result in an opioid prescription for women than men.
“Catastrophizing is thinking negatively about the future and how you’re never going to recover and how you’re never going to get well and how much the pain effected your life,” said Sharifzadeh.
In men, she said, pain intensity dictates whether or not they are prescribed opioids. In women catastrophizing and pain intensity work together.
“The biggest take away from this is that emotional and cognitive well-being have so much to do with pain. It may be beneficial for women especially to work with their physician to assess and address both the psychological and the physical aspects of pain concurrently in order to improve outcomes,” added Sharifzadeh.