Heterogeneity of pain-related psychological distress in patients seeking care for shoulder pathology.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: Psychological distress is associated with disability and quality of life for patients with shoulder pain. However, uncertainty around heterogeneity of psychological distress has limited the adoption of shoulder care models that address psychological characteristics. In a cohort of patients with shoulder pain, our study sought to (1) describe the prevalence of various subtypes of psychological distress; (2) evaluate associations between psychological distress and self-reported shoulder pain, disability, and function; and (3) determine differences in psychological distress profiles between patients receiving nonoperative vs. operative treatment. METHODS: The sample included 277 patients who were evaluated in clinic by a shoulder surgeon and completed the Optimal Screening for Prediction of Referral and Outcome Yellow Flag Assessment Tool (OSPRO-YF) from 2019 to 2021. This tool categorizes maladaptive and adaptive psychological traits, and the number of yellow flags (YFs) ranges from 0 to 11, with higher YF counts indicating higher pain-related psychological distress. Operative and nonoperative cohorts were compared using χ2 test and Student t test. Linear regression was used to evaluate the association between pain, disability, and YFs, whereas Poisson regression evaluated the association between operative treatment and psychological distress. K-means cluster analysis was performed to propose potential psychological distress phenotypes. RESULTS: Two hundred fifty-one patients (91%) had at least 1 YF on the OSPRO-YF tool, with a mean number of 6 ± 3.5 YFs. YFs in unhelpful coping (85%) and helpful coping domains (78%) were most prevalent. The number of YFs was significantly associated with baseline shoulder pain (P < .001), Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation (P < .001), and American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons Standardized Shoulder Assessment Form (P < .001) scores. Comparing operative and nonoperative cohorts, the operative cohort had a significantly higher mean number of YFs (6.5 vs. 5.6, P = .035), presence of any YF (94.3% vs. 85.7%, P = .015), and presence of YFs within the unhelpful coping domain (91.8% vs. 75.6%, P < .001). Three phenotypes were described, corresponding to low, moderate, and severe psychological distress (P < .001), with females (P = .037) and smokers (P = .018) associated with higher psychological distress phenotypes. CONCLUSIONS: YFs, particularly within the unhelpful coping and helpful coping domains, were highly prevalent in a cohort of patients presenting to a shoulder surgeon's clinic. Additionally, operative patients were found to have a significantly higher rate of YFs across multiple dimensions of psychological distress. These findings stress the importance of routine attentiveness to multiple dimensions of pain-related psychological distress in shoulder populations, which can provide an opportunity to reinforce healthy interpretation of pain while minimizing distress in appropriately identified patients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Levin, JM; Baker, R; Goltz, DE; Wickman, J; Lentz, TA; Cook, C; George, SZ; Klifto, CS; Anakwenze, OA

Published Date

  • April 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 31 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 681 - 687

PubMed ID

  • 34656777

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1532-6500

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jse.2021.09.009


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States