International Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 252–258 | Cite as

Predictors of Daily Pain Medication Use in Individuals with Recurrent Back Pain

  • John A. Sturgeon
  • Jennifer M. Hah
  • Yasamin Sharifzadeh
  • Stephanie K. Middleton
  • Thomas Rico
  • Kevin A. Johnson
  • Sean C. Mackey



A key component to chronic pain management regimens is the use of analgesic medications. Psychological factors, such as mood states, may also affect the use of pain medications for individuals with chronic pain, but few observational studies have examined how these factors may predict pain medication use at the daily level.


Daily assessments from 104 individuals with back pain were used to examine fluctuations in daily pain intensity, mood, sleep quality, and physical activity as predictors of the likelihood of pain medication (opioid and non-opioid) use and levels of medication use on the same day.


Pain intensity and mood ratings significantly predicted whether participants used pain medication on the same day, while only pain intensity predicted whether participants used more medication than usual. Further, current opioid users were more likely to increase the amount of their medication use on days of higher pain.


This article identifies fluctuations in daily pain intensity and mood as salient predictors of daily pain medication use in individuals with recurrent back pain. The current study is among the first to highlight both pain and mood states as predictors of daily pain medication use in individuals with back pain, though future studies may expand on these findings through the use of higher-resolution daily medication use variables.


Daily diaries Pain intensity Mood Opioid medications Medication use 



This study received funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (K23DA031808, 3T32DA035165-02S1, K24 DA029262) and the Redlich Pain Endowment.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© International Society of Behavioral Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine, Division of Pain MedicineStanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Systems Neuroscience and Pain LaboratoryPalo AltoUSA

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