In this article we see that Few studies have examined clinically relevant mechanisms that underlie the association between two important indices of recovery— depression severity and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in psychiatric outpatients. This study aimed to explicate the roles of pain interference and pain severity as mediating and moderating mechanisms in the relationship between depressive symptoms and HRQOL.

Data from 290 outpatients diagnosed with schizophrenia (n = 102), depressive (n = 98), and anxiety (n = 90) disorders were examined. Participants completed a set of questionnaires that queried their sociodemographic statuses, current pain severity and interference levels, depression severity levels, and HRQOL. Subsequently, mediation and moderation analyses were conducted.

Analyses revealed that pain interference fully mediated the relationship between depressive symptoms and physical (34% of the total effect) but not mental HRQOL. At high pain levels (+ 1 SD from mean), depressive symptoms may interfere with physical quality of life through pain interference, but this was not present at low pain levels (− 1 SD from mean).

Prolonged pain symptoms could negatively influence psychiatric recovery beyond the physical aspect of HRQOL. These results thus imply a need to detect and manage severe physical pain complaints at the acute stage in psychiatric outpatients.

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