AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 1584–1595 | Cite as

Psychological Factors Associated With Painful Versus Non-Painful HIV-Associated Sensory Neuropathy

  • Prinisha Pillay
  • Antonia L. Wadley
  • Catherine L. Cherry
  • Alan S. Karstaedt
  • Peter R. Kamerman
Original Paper


HIV-associated sensory neuropathy (HIV-SN) is a common, and frequently painful complication of HIV, but factors that determine the presence of pain are unresolved. We investigated: (i) if psychological factors associated with painful (n = 125) versus non-painful HIV-SN (n = 72), and (ii) if pain and psychological factors affected quality of life (QoL). We assessed anxiety and depression using the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist-25. Pain catastrophizing and QoL were assessed using the Pain Catastrophizing Scale and Euroqol-5D, respectively. Presence of neuropathy was detected using the Brief Neuropathy Screening Tool, and pain was characterised using the Wisconsin Brief Pain Questionnaire. Overall, there was a high burden of pain, depression and anxiety in the cohort. None of the psychological variables associated with having painful HIV-SN. Greater depressive symptoms and presence of pain were independently associated with lower QoL. In those participants with painful HIV-SN, greater depressive symptom scores were associated with increased pain intensity. In conclusion, in a cohort with high background levels of psychological dysfunction, psychological factors do not predict the presence of pain, but both depression and presence of pain are associated with poor quality of life.


Depression Pain intensity Quality of life Painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy 



The authors wish to thank the patients and staff of the Greenhouse Pharmacy at the Chris-Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and Florence Mtsweni for acting as an interpreter in the study. They are also grateful for the assistance of Mr. Rashid Adam from the Greenhouse Pharmacy. The authors gratefully acknowledge the contribution to this work of the Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program received by the Burnet Institute (CLC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the TATA Foundation for Doctoral funding (PP) and the Hillel Friedland Trust for Fellowship funding (AW).


Medical Faculty Research Endowment Fund of the University of the Witwatersrand (PP), Medical Research Council of South Africa (PRK), National Research Foundation Rated Researchers Programme (PRK), Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program received by the Burnet Institute (CLC), and Developed-Developing Countries Collaborative Research Grant of the International Association for the Study of Pain (CLC, PRK).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors (PP, ALW, CLC, ASK and PRK) declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in the study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Wits Human Research Ethics Committee (Medical) and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.International Clinical Research Laboratory, Centre for Biomedical ResearchBurnet InstituteMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Infectious DiseasesAlfred Hospital and Monash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of MedicineChris Hani Baragwanath HospitalJohannesburgSouth Africa
  5. 5.School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health SciencesCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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