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Pain. 1992 May;49(2):199-204.

Pain complaint and the weather: weather sensitivity and symptom complaints in chronic pain patients.

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Department of Psychology, Western State Hospital, Staunton, VA 24401.


Chronic pain patients frequently report that weather conditions affect their pain; however, no standardized measures of weather sensitivity have been developed. We describe the development and use of the Weather and Pain Questionnaire (WPQ) which assess patient sensitivity to meteorologic variables defined by the National Weather Service (e.g., temperature, precipitation). Seventy chronic pain patients (59% females) with an average age of 43 years completed the WPQ. The instrument was revised using factor analysis to produce a Weather Sensitivity Index (WSI) (48% of variance) with high internal consistency (0.93) and test-retest reliability (r = 0.89). Reporting patterns suggested that patients could reliably identify which meteorologic variables influenced their pain but could not reliably determine which physical symptoms were consistently affected. The most frequently reported meteorologic variables which affect pain complaint were temperature (87%) and humidity (77%). The most frequently reported physical complaints associated with the weather were joint and muscle aches (82% and 79%, respectively). Patients labeled as being 'weather sensitive', defined by greater than median scores on the WPQ, reported significantly greater pain intensity, greater chronicity of pain problems, and more difficulties sleeping than patients with low scores on the WPQ. No differences in gender, education level, disability status, or global psychological distress were found. Results are discussed with respect to physiological and psychological mediating variables.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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