Cumulative trauma disorder: The role of psychological variables and organic pathology

Lewis Raymond Sussman (1994)

Cumulative Trauma Disorder is an occupational disability in which patients become progressively disabled through repetitive motions or postures which individually would not be traumatic at all. The psychological components of this disorder are not well understood. Archival research was conducted using data collected from CTD patients evaluated at the Industrial Rehabilitation Program of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire. Differences between CTD patients with and without clear organic pathology were examined. Psychological factors including private body consciousness, alexithymia, anxiety, and psychological disturbance were studied, as well as self report of pain. No significant differences were found between the group with clear organic pathology and the group without clear organic pathology along any of the factors measured. This lack of significant differences does not support the conventional understanding of these groups of patients as being more likely to have psychopathology. These findings may be analogous to recent gastric and duodenal ulcer research that has found a bacterial infection as the most important factor in the pathogenesis of ulcers, dismissing the psychosomatic hypothesis.