Exploring Gender Differences in Veterans in a Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial of Mindfulness for Chronic Pain

Diana J. Burgess, Emily M. Hagel Campbell, Mariah Branson, Collin Calvert, Roni Evans, Kelli D. Allen, Ann Bangerter, Lee J.S. Cross, Mary A. Driscoll, Sierra Hennessy, John E. Ferguson, Jessica K. Friedman, Marianne S. Matthias, Laura A. Meis, Melissa A. Polusny, Stephanie L. Taylor, Brent C. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although studies have documented higher rates of chronic pain among women Veterans compared to men Veterans, there remains a lack of comprehensive information about potential contributors to these disparities. Materials and Methods: This study examined gender differences in chronic pain and its contributors among 419 men and 392 women Veterans, enrolled in a mindfulness trial for chronic pain. We conducted descriptive analyses summarizing distributions of baseline measures, obtained by survey and through the electronic health record. Comparisons between genders were conducted using chi-square tests for categorical variables and t-tests for continuous measures. Results: Compared to men, women Veterans were more likely to have chronic overlapping pain conditions and had higher levels of pain interference and intensity. Women had higher prevalence of psychiatric and sleep disorder diagnoses, greater levels of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, fatigue, sleep disturbance, stress and pain catastrophizing, and lower levels of pain self-efficacy and participation in social roles and activities. However, women were less likely to smoke or have a substance abuse disorder and used more nonpharmacological pain treatment modalities. Conclusion: Among Veterans seeking treatment for chronic pain, women differed from men in their type of pain, had greater pain intensity and interference, and had greater prevalence and higher levels of many known biopsychosocial contributors to pain. Results point to the need for pain treatment that addresses the comprehensive needs of women Veterans. Clinical Trial Registration Number: NCT04526158. Patient enrollment began on December 4, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)82-92
Number of pages11
JournalWomen's Health Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

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  • chronic pain
  • mindfulness
  • veterans
  • women

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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