The number of non-responders to treatment among patients with chronic pain (CP) is high, although intensive multimodal treatment is broadly accessible. One reason is the large variability in manifestations of CP. To facilitate the development of tailored treatment approaches, phenotypes of CP must be identified. In this study, we aim to identify subgroups in patients with CP based on several aspects of self-reported health.
A latent class analysis (LCA) was carried out in retrospective data from 411 patients with CP of different origins. All patients experienced severe physical and psychosocial consequences and were therefore undergoing multimodal inpatient pain treatment. Self-reported measures of pain (visual analogue scales for pain intensity, frequency, and impairment; Pain Perception Scale), emotional distress (Patient Health Questionnaire, PHQ-9; Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale, GAD-7) and physical health (Short Form Health Survey; SF-8) were collected immediately after admission and before discharge. Instruments assessed at admission were used as input to the LCA. Resulting classes were compared in terms of patient characteristics and treatment outcome.
A model with four latent classes demonstrated the best model fit and interpretability. Classes 1 to 4 included patients with high (54.7%), extreme (17.0%), moderate (15.6%), and low (12.7%) pain burden, respectively. Patients in class 4 showed high levels of emotional distress, whereas emotional distress in the other classes corresponded to the levels of pain burden. While pain as well as physical and mental health improved in class 1, only the levels of depression and anxiety improved in patients in the other groups during multimodal treatment.