Pain Catastrophizing as a Predictor of Suicidal Ideation in Chronic Pain Patients with an Opiate Prescription

Abstract [from journal]

Chronic pain and opioid use are associated with increased risk for suicidal ideation and behaviors (SIB) in cross-sectional studies, particularly among individuals who catastrophize about their pain. This study examined the longitudinal association between two styles of pain coping, catastrophizing and hoping/praying, as predictors of subsequent SIB, as well as possible mediators of this association among patients with chronic pain receiving long-term opioid therapy. Participants (n = 496) were adults with chronic nonmalignant pain on long-term opioid therapy who did not develop an opioid use disorder. Participants were assessed for pain coping, suicidal ideation, depression, social support and pain interference at baseline, and were reassessed for SI, depression, and pain interference at 6- and 12-month follow-ups. Catastrophizing was a significant predictor of increased subsequent SIB, whereas hoping/praying did not protect against future SIB. The relationship between catastrophizing and future SIB was mediated by depression, but not social support or pain interference. In conclusion, catastrophizing was an important predictor of subsequent SIB due to its effect on increasing depression among patients with chronic nonmalignant pain receiving long-term opioid therapy. Future research should explore the extent to which targeting catastrophizing reduces subsequent depression and suicide risk.