Chronic Pain Extends Beyond Mere Physical Symptoms Interview with:
Dahee Wi, PhD, RN
Department of Biobehavioral Nursing Science
University of Illinois Chicago
College of Nursing, Chicago, Illinois What is the background for this study?

Response: Chronic pain, defined as persistent or recurrent pain lasting longer than three months, is a significant health problem, particularly among U.S. active duty service members (ADSM). ADSMs are at an elevated risk for chronic pain due to the nature of military service and related job training. Chronic pain is a leading cause of disability and medical discharge in the military, significantly impacting readiness and mission capabilities.

Chronic pain is often accompanied by multiple comorbid conditions, making it essential to view it not just as a single symptom but in relation to co-occurring symptoms of other conditions. The study conducted network analysis, an analytic technique that provides graphical representations of the relationships between selected measures. This approach can offer new insights into the complex interplay of physical, emotional, and social factors in chronic pain What are the main findings?

Response: The study’s main findings reveal that pain interference, depression, and anxiety are the most influential factors in the network of chronic pain. Notably, pain catastrophizing, which refers to the negative cognitive-affective response to anticipated or actual pain, emerges as a key element influencing the relationship between pain and various health measures. These results underscore the complex interplay of pain with psychological and social factors, highlighting the need for holistic treatment approaches that address these interconnected aspects. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: An important insight for readers is the recognition that chronic pain extends beyond a mere physical symptom; it is deeply intertwined with emotional and social dysfunction. Effective pain management, therefore, requires a multifaceted approach that addresses co-existing conditions such as depression and anxiety.

The study emphasizes the significance of multi-dimensional assessment in treating chronic pain, considering not just the physical but also the emotional and social dimensions. Moreover, the role of pain catastrophizing is identified as a critical focus area in treatment strategies. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: The study suggests several avenues for future research. It calls for a deeper investigation into the causal relationships among these interconnected symptoms of chronic pain. There is an expressed interest in exploring how the network structure of these symptoms changes before and after specific interventions targeted at chronic pain. Additionally, the study recommends examining the impact of interventions that specifically target pain catastrophizing, to assess how these might affect overall chronic pain management and patient outcomes. These areas of research could provide valuable insights into more effective treatment methods for chronic pain, especially in the context of active duty service members.


 – No conflicts of interest to declare.

– Acknowledgement of funding from the National Institute of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


Dahee Wi, Chang Park, Jeffrey C Ransom, Diane M Flynn, Ardith Z Doorenbos, A network analysis of pain intensity and pain-related measures of physical, emotional, and social functioning in US military service members with chronic pain, Pain Medicine, 2023;, pnad148,

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Last Updated on November 26, 2023 by