Relations between PTSD symptom clusters and pain in three trauma-exposed samples with pain

Sophia Åkerblom, Matti Cervin, Linda Nordin, Tonny Elmose Andersen, Marie Høgh Thøgersen, Sean Perrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: Little is known about how the individual PTSD symptom clusters relate to intensity and interference of pain and whether these relationships differ across clinical groups. The present study examines relations between PTSD symptom clusters and pain in three trauma-exposed, unique clinical groups: 1) adults seeking treatment for chronic pain with current symptoms of PTSD, 2) trauma affected refugees seeking treatment for PTSD and chronic pain; and 3) individuals identified at admission to the emergency ward after whiplash injury.

Methods: Network analysis was used to assess unique relations between pain intensity, pain interference, re-experiencing, avoidance, numbing, hyperarousal, depression, and anxiety separately in each sample. Links between PTSD clusters and pain were then compared within and between samples.

Results: No within-group differences were identified for the links between pain and any of PTSD clusters in the chronic pain and refugee groups. In the whiplash group, hyperarousal was more strongly related to pain than re-experiencing, avoidance, and numbing. Between group comparisons revealed a more pronounced relationship between hyperarousal and pain in the whiplash group, with no between-group differences between the chronic pain and refugee groups.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that when depression and anxiety are accounted for, few unique associations are found between pain and the PTSD symptom clusters in trauma-exposed samples with pain, with the exception of a link between pain and hyperarousal in individuals with whiplash-related PTSD symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-493
JournalScandinavian Journal of Pain
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jun

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Applied Psychology


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