Pain as a risk factor for suicidal ideation. A population-based longitudinal cohort study

Eric W de Heer, Margreet Ten Have, Harm W J van Marwijk, Jack Dekker, Ron de Graaf, Aartjan T F Beekman, Christina M van der Feltz-Cornelis

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14 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To examine the longitudinal association between pain and suicidal ideation in the general adult population.

METHOD: Data were used from two waves (baseline and three-year follow-up) of the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2. Persons without prior 12-month suicidal ideation at baseline were included in this study (N = 5242). Pain severity and interference due to pain in the past month were measured using the 36-item Short Form Health Survey. Suicidal ideation and DSM-IV mental disorders were assessed using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Logistic regression analyses were performed.

RESULTS: Moderate to very severe pain (OR 3.39, p < .001) and moderate to very severe interference due to pain (OR 2.35, p .01) were associated with a higher risk for incident suicidal ideation at follow-up after adjustment for baseline sociodemographic variables and mental disorders. No interaction effects were found between pain severity or interference due to pain and mental disorders.

CONCLUSION: Moderate to severe pain and interference due to pain are risk factors for suicidal ideation independently of concomitant mental disorders. We suggest taking assessment and management of suicidal ideation in patients with pain into account both in clinical treatment as well as in suicide prevention action plans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-61
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Early online date22 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • General population
  • Interference due to pain
  • Mental disorders
  • Pain
  • Pain severity
  • Suicidal ideation

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