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Psychosocial Impact of Pelvic Pain Disorders Goes Far Beyond Anxiety and Depression

Naliboff BD, Stephens AJ, Afari N, Lai H, Krieger JN, Hong B, Lutgendorf S, Strachan E, Williams D; MAPP Research Network. Widespread Psychosocial Difficulties in Men and Women With Urologic Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes: Case-control Findings From the Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain Research Network. Urology. 2015 Jun;85(6):1319-27. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2015.02.047.

Studies in the past have clearly shown that anxiety and depression can impact many individuals with urologic chronic pelvic pain syndromes. However, the extent and severity of psychosocial issues among individuals with urologic chronic pelvic pain syndromes may be far broader than many clinicians appreciate, the results of this study suggest. To get a better sense of the variety of psychosocial issues that can impact these patients, researchers in the MAPP (Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Chronic Pelvic Pain) Research Network recruited hundreds of patients from academic medical centers in the United States, along with a nearly equal number of healthy control subjects. All subjects underwent a comprehensive battery of measures for illness, symptoms, and psychosocial disorders. One of the most important findings was that patients with chronic pelvic pain had a higher level of stress, and had a more difficult time coping with illness, compared with the healthy subjects. Male and female subjects reported similar psychosocial problems, though female patients reported more widespread symptoms of pain and discomfort, and were more likely to report childhood adversity. The findings in this paper contribute substantially to understanding the breadth of psychosocial difficulties associated with pelvic pain syndromes, and may have important implications for clinical assessment.