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J Pain. 2005 Dec;6(12):782-90.

Psychosocial risk factors for postherpetic neuralgia: a prospective study of patients with herpes zoster.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.


The results of previous studies using retrospective methods or small samples have suggested that there may be psychosocial risk factors for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). We conducted a prospective study in which 110 patients with herpes zoster were assessed within the first month after rash onset with measures of acute pain and five broad domains of psychosocial functioning-physical, role, social, and emotional functioning, and stress and social support. Twenty of the 102 patients with follow-up data were diagnosed with PHN, defined as pain that had persisted for 4 months after rash onset. Measures of role functioning, personality disorder symptoms, and disease conviction during herpes zoster each made independent contributions to predicting either presence or intensity of PHN in logistic and linear regression analyses that controlled for relevant demographic and clinical variables, including age and acute pain intensity. These findings indicate that psychosocial variables are risk factors for the development of PHN.


The results of this prospective study of patients with herpes zoster suggest that future research on the mechanisms and prevention of PHN should consider psychosocial as well as neurobiologic processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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