Does War Hurt? Effects of Media Exposure After Missile Attacks on Chronic Pain

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Abstract

This study focused on the effects of exposure to terrorist missile attacks on the physical and mental well being of chronic pain patients. In this prospective and longitudinal design, 55 chronic pain patients treated at a specialty pain clinic completed self-report questionnaires regarding their pain, depression and anxiety pre- and post a three week missile attack on the southern region of Israel. In addition, levels of direct and indirect exposure to the attacks were measured. Results of regression analyses showed that exposure to the attacks through the media predicted an increase in pain intensity and in the sensory component of pain during the pre-post war period, but did not predict depression, anxiety or the affective component of pain. These findings contribute to the understanding of the effects of terrorism on physical and emotional distress and identify chronic pain patients as a vulnerable population requiring special attention during terrorism-related stress.