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J Med Virol. 2008 Sep;80(9):1646-52. doi: 10.1002/jmv.21254.

Clinical and psychosocial correlates of post-herpetic neuralgia.

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Department of Public Health, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy.


Post-herpetic neuralgia is the most challenging and debilitating complication of herpes zoster in the immunocompetent host. Because the effect of treatment is disappointing once the syndrome has developed, it is important to know which factors predict post-herpetic neuralgia occurrence to facilitate selection of herpes zoster patients with a higher risk of developing neuralgia and undertake preventative strategies. The present study aimed at identifying demographic, clinical and psychosocial correlates of post-herpetic neuralgia in a sample of 219 immunocompetent patients, who were examined by dermatologists in private practice in Italy and who completed a questionnaire designed to evaluate their clinical and psychosocial profile at the time of clinical diagnosis of herpes zoster and at a follow-up visit 6 months later. In a univariate analysis, post-herpetic neuralgia was associated significantly with older age, longer duration of prodromal pain, greater acute pain intensity, greater extent of rash, presence of abnormal sensations and use of systemic antiviral therapy. Compared to the values at herpes zoster onset, at the follow-up visit patients with post-herpetic neuralgia presented with similar high mean scores of pain intensity, anxiety and depression and greatly reduced quality of life, whereas patients without neuralgia presented with improved scores. In a multivariate model, older age, greater acute pain intensity, greater extent of rash and longer duration of prodromal pain were independently associated with post-herpetic neuralgia. The results of this study may help physicians to identify patients with a higher risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia and undertaking preventative strategies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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