Prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms in orofacial pain patients

Reny De Leeuw, Elizangela Bertoli, John E. Schmidt, Charles R. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Objective. There is a high comorbidity between symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain incidence. The objective of this investigation was to determine the prevalence of PTSD symptoms in chronic orofacial pain patients. Study design. The study included 1478 adult patients (mean age 36.4 ± 12.7 years) with primary diagnoses of masticatory/cervical muscle pain or temporomandibular joint pain. Patients completed a battery of psychometric questionnaires including a screening for PTSD symptoms. The sample was divided into a PTSD-positive group (n=218, 15%) a PTSD-negative group (n=551, 37%), and a no-stressor group (n=709, 48%) according to stressor incidence and symptom severity. Results. The current prevalence of PTSD symptomatology was considerably higher than that reported in surveys from the general population. Patients in the PTSD-positive symptom group reported significantly higher psychological distress, sleep dysfunction, and pain severity compared to patients in the other groups. Psychological distress as measured by the SCL-90-R reached clinically significant levels only in those patients with PTSD symptomatology. Conclusions. The results of this study performed at a tertiary care center suggest that TMD patients without PTSD symptomatology show low levels of psychological distress, if any. Clinically significant levels of psychological distress are likely indicators for PTSD. PTSD screening should be included as part of a routine psychometric test battery in TMD patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-568
Number of pages11
JournalOral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology and Endodontology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Dentistry (all)


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