There are several studies about the relationship between depression and chronic non-malignant pain. These studies have shown that up to 50% of chronic pain patients are suffering from depression.It is, therefore, reasonable to expect that pain patients would also have an increased risk of suicidal behaviour. This problem is not well studied.Since 1990 the Centre for Suicide Research, Odense, Denmark has registered all suicide attempts in patients residing in the Region of Funen, Denmark.The Pain Clinic, Odense University Hospital receives patients with chronic pain from the entire Region of Southern Denmark.The purpose of the study has been:To investigate, whether patients treated in the Pain Clinic during the period from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2009 had an increased risk of suicide attempts compared with the background population.The Register for Suicide Attempts (RSA) is a product of the WHO research programme WHO/EURO Multicentre Study on Para suicide. The RSA is a longitudinal person-based register. It contains information about people who have been in contact with the health care system in the County of Funen as a result of a suicide attempt.The Pain Clinic, Odense University Hospital receives patients with non-malignant chronic pain from the Region of Southern Denmark with 1,194,659 inhabitants. Data about age, sex, and time of treatment for patients treated in the Pain Clinic during the period were registered. Time and method of the suicide attempts were registered in the RSA. By registry linkages between the patient registers it was possible to calculate any excess risk of suicide attempts in chronic pain patients in the study period.We used a cohort design and calculated incidence rates (IR) and incidence rate ratios (IRRs) for suicide attempts, based on data from RSA. Poisson Regression analyses were used for calculation of IR and IRR for suicide attempts.In the study period from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2009 1871 patients residing in the Region of Funen in Denmark were referred to The Pain Clinic.In the patient group 258 suicide attempts in 110 persons were registered. In all 6% of the patient group had attempted suicide.An increased risk of suicide attempts was found in the pain population as the incidence rate ratio (IRR) was 3.76 95% CI (3.22; 4.40). No statistical significant differences between men and women were found.In a chronic non-malignant pain population, referred to a pain clinic, the risk of suicide attempts was increased.It is important to be aware of risk factors for suicidal behaviour, i.e. pain history, depression, anxiety, abuse problems, and social problems when caring for patients with chronic pain. More knowledge and training of the staff caring for chronic pain patients are needed to decrease the risk of suicidal behaviour.
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