Clinical Pain in Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review

G. Engels, A.L. Francke, B. van Meijel, J.G. Douma, H. de Kam, W. Wesselink, W. Houtjes, E.J.A. Scherder

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Studies about clinical pain in schizophrenia are rare. Conclusions on pain sensitivity in people with schizophrenia are primarily based on experimental pain studies. This review attempts to assess clinical pain, that is, everyday pain without experimental manipulation, in people with schizophrenia. PubMed, PsycINFO,, and Cochrane were searched with terms related to schizophrenia and pain. Methodological quality was assessed with the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Fourteen studies were included. Persons with schizophrenia appear to have a diminished prevalence of pain, as well as a lower intensity of pain when compared to persons with other psychiatric diseases. When compared to healthy controls, both prevalence and intensity of pain appear to be diminished for persons with schizophrenia. However, it was found that this effect only applies to pain with an apparent medical cause, such as headache after lumbar puncture. For less severe situations, prevalence and intensity of pain appears to be comparable between people with schizophrenia and controls. Possible underlying mechanisms are discussed. Knowledge about pain in schizophrenia is important for adequate pain treatment in clinical practice. Perspective This review presents a valuable insight into clinical pain in people with schizophrenia. © 2014 by the American Pain Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)457-467
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pain
Issue number5
Early online date21 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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