Chronic pain disorders in HIV primary care: Clinical characteristics and association with healthcare utilization

Jocelyn M. Jiao, Eric So, Jebakaran Jebakumar, Mary Catherine George, David M. Simpson, Jessica Robinson-Papp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Chronic pain is common in HIV, but incompletely characterized, including its underlying etiologies, its effect on healthcare utilization, and the characteristics of affected patients in the HIV primary care setting. These data are needed to design and justify appropriate clinic-based pain management services. Using a clinical data warehouse, we analyzed one year of data from 638 patients receiving standard-of-care antiretroviral therapy in a large primary care HIV clinic, located in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. We found that 40% of patients carried one or more chronic pain diagnoses. The most common diagnoses were degenerative musculoskeletal disorders (eg, degenerative spinal disease and osteoarthritis), followed by neuropathic pain and headache disorders. Many patients (16%) had multiple chronic pain diagnoses. Women, older patients, and patients with greater burdens of medical illness, and psychiatric and substance use comorbidities were disproportionately represented among those with chronic pain diagnoses. Controlling for overall health status, HIV patients with chronic pain had greater healthcare utilization including emergency department visits and radiology procedures. In summary, our study demonstrates the high prevalence of chronic pain disorders in the primary care HIV clinic. Colocated interventions for chronic pain in this setting should not only focus on musculoskeletal pain but also account for complex multifaceted pain syndromes, and address the unique biopsychosocial features of this population. Furthermore, because chronic pain is prevalent in HIV and associated with increased healthcare utilization, developing clinic-based pain management programs could be cost-effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-937
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Chronic pain
  • Clinical data warehouse
  • HIV
  • Low back pain
  • Mental health
  • Musculoskeletal pain
  • Myalgia
  • Peripheral nervous system diseases
  • Substance abuse


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