The mediating role of posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in pain cognitions among Veterans with chronic pain

David E. Reed, Elizabeth A. Lehinger, Briana Cobos, Rhonda M. Williams, Cindy A. McGeary, Donald D. McGeary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are highly prevalent among Veterans with chronic pain. Considerable research has examined the intersection of chronic pain and PTSD symptoms. However, it remains unclear whether changes in PTSD may potentially serve a mechanistic role in improving unhelpful pain cognitions for individuals with chronic pain. The present research contributes to the foundational knowledge by addressing this question. Baseline data from a randomized controlled trial targeting pain-related disability for Veterans (n = 103; mean age 43.66; SD = 10.17) with musculoskeletal pain and depression and/or PTSD symptoms were used. Cross-sectional mediation analyses showed that PTSD symptoms mediated the relationship between pain severity and pain catastrophizing, and between pain severity and pain acceptance. After controlling for depression, the mediation involving pain catastrophizing remained significant, while the mediation for pain acceptance did not. Although limitations exist, results point to several treatment recommendations, including ensuring that depressive affect, PTSD-specific symptoms, and attention to both body and mind are included in treatment. Results also provide preliminary evidence for examining these associations longitudinally to improve our understanding of this population and corresponding treatment recommendations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalMilitary Psychology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Veterans
  • fear-avoidance
  • pain acceptance
  • pain catastrophizing
  • posttraumatic stress disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Psychology


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