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Catherine A. Marco


Anxiety is common among Emergency Department (ED) patients. Self-reported pain scores have been associated with a variety of physical and psychological factors. However, the relationship between pain and anxiety in ED patients has not been previously reported. This study aims to identify a relationship between self-reported pain scores and the diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder among ED patients.

This prospective patient survey study was conducted at Miami Valley Hospital, an urban ED in Dayton, Ohio. Eligible participants included ED patients age 18 or over, with a self-reported pain score ranging from 1-10 on the verbal numeric rating pain scale (VNRS). Following consent to participate, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7) scale screening tool was used to interview patients. Other data collected included previous diagnosis of anxiety, triage self-reported pain score, ED disposition, day of week, and demographic information including age, race, and gender. Data from this collection form were then entered in a spreadsheet for statistical analysis. Statistical tests included Mann Whitney Wilcoxon test and Spearman correlation coefficient.

320 participants were interviewed during this study. The majority of participants were female (63%; N = 202) and white (63%; N = 200). The median self-reported pain score was 8. The median GAD-7 score was 8. The majority (55%; N = 175) of participants had a GAD score ≥ 8, meeting criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder. No significant relationship was identified between self-reported pain scores and the GAD-7 criterion for anxiety (p = 0.48, Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon).

Although this study found a high prevalence of anxiety in ED patients who expressed having pain, there was no relationship between self-reported pain scores and anxiety.