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Pain. 1990 Oct;43(1):37-46.

Litigation and employment status: effects on patients with chronic pain.

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Division of Behavioral Medicine, St. Louis University School of Medicine, MO 63104.


In order to study the effects of compensation and litigation, 201 chronic pain patients were selected from a sample of 444: 99 were working, 15 were working and litigating, 53 were receiving Worker's Compensation, and 34 were receiving Worker's Compensation and litigating. Employment (working vs. Worker's Compensation) and litigation status (litigating vs. not litigating) were analyzed in a 2 x 2 factorial design with measures of pain, disability, psychological distress, and selected demographics as dependent variables. Compared to Worker's Compensation patients, working patients reported significantly less disability (down-time, days spent in bed, interference of pain in daily activities) and pain of a longer duration. Compared to litigating patients, non-litigating patients reported less pain (on the McGill Pain Questionnaire) and less disability (stopping activity, interference of pain in daily activities). On two measures of psychological distress (depression, anxiety), there were significant interactions: Worker's Compensation patients who were litigating reported less distress than non-litigants, while working patients who were litigating reported more distress than non-litigants. The results indicate clear differences in self-reports of disability associated with both employment and litigation status. They also suggest that litigation may function as a coping response for patients who are distressed by the adversarial nature of the Worker's Compensation system. Limitations of the study as well as suggestions for further research also are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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