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J Psychosom Res. 2004 Mar;56(3):297-305.

The stress of musculoskeletal pain: a comparison between primary care patients in various ages.

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  • 1Unit of Mental Health, Community Medicine, and Department of Public Health Sciences, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. joaquim.soares@smd.sll.se



To analyse differences in demographic/financial/pain/health variables, disability, General Health Questionnaire (GHQ; i.e., depression symptoms) and coping among 949 primary care pain patients in various ages (20-65+ years) and to identify predictors of disability and coping.


Patients completed scales about various areas (e.g., coping). The design was cross-sectional and data were collected during 15 consecutive days at 20 randomly selected primary care centres in Stockholm.


Univariate analyses showed that older patients (a) were more often divorced, blue-collar workers, less educated and had greater difficulties with living expenses, (b) had pain of longer duration, more frequently and of more complexity, and felt more disabled, (c) consumed more painkillers, analgesics, sedatives and other medications, had received more pain treatments and had more health problems and (d) more often used passive coping for pain. Younger patients (a) had more severe pain, were financially strained and were more often unemployed and (b) more often used active coping for pain. There were no significant differences concerning GHQ scores. Multivariate regression analyses showed that active coping was associated with younger age. High disability and passive coping were associated with older age.


We corroborated previous findings and may provide new insights into the experiences of older and younger pain patients. Further research concerning, for example, the elderly at risk of developing pain problems is needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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