Bottom Line: Many veterans experience chronic pain after deployment. This study of almost 21,000 U.S. Army soldiers who deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq examined the association between feelings of optimism (such as expecting the best and believing good things will happen) before deployment and new reports of pain after deployment, including new back pain, joint pain and frequent headaches. Higher levels of optimism before deployment were linked with a lower likelihood of reporting new pain after deployment, even after accounting for demographic, military and combat factors. The findings suggest soldiers with low levels of optimism before deployment may benefit from programs designed to enhance feelings of optimism. There are limitations to interpreting the study results because researchers didn't account for psychiatric disorders and assessments of pain were limited.
Authors: Afton L. Hassett, Psy.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and coauthors
Editor's Note: The article contains conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.
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