Karen Seal, MD, MPH
Karen Seal, MD, MPH, a physician at SFVAMC and an Associate Professor in Residence of Medicine and Psychiatry at UCSF, led a recent study which found that Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health diagnoses were significantly more likely to be prescribed opiates for pain than other Veterans with pain. Dr. Seal noted that because of improved body armor and better war zone medical care, more Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans have survived wounds that would have been fatal in earlier conflicts. "Many of these Veterans with severe chronic pain also have PTSD as a result of the same trauma that caused their physical injuries," she said.
Dr. Seal and her research team recommend that the VA continue implementing and expanding its current program, which she called a "multi-faceted, integrated approach" to simultaneously managing pain and PTSD.