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Lancet. 1999 Oct 9;354(9186):1248-52.

The epidemiology of chronic pain in the community.

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1
Department of General Practice, University of Aberdeen Medical School, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Chronic pain is recognised as an important problem in the community but our understanding of the epidemiology of chronic pain remains limited. We undertook a study designed to quantify and describe the prevalence and distribution of chronic pain in the community.

METHODS:

A random sample of 5036 patients, aged 25 and over, was drawn from 29 general practices in the Grampian region of the UK and surveyed by a postal self-completion questionnaire. The questionnaire included case-screening questions, a question on the cause of the pain, the chronic pain grade questionnaire, the level of expressed needs questionnaire, and sociodemographic questions.

FINDINGS:

3605 questionnaires were returned completed. 1817 (50.4%) of patients self reported chronic pain, equivalent to 46.5% of the general population. 576 reported back pain and 570 reported arthritis; these were the most common complaints and accounted for a third of all complaints. Backward stepwise logistic-regression modelling identified age, sex, housing tenure, and employment status as significant predictors of the presence of chronic pain in the community. 703 (48.7%) individuals with chronic pain had the least severe grade of pain, and 228 (15.8%) the most severe grade. Of those who reported chronic pain, 312 (17.2%) reported no expressed need, and 509 (28.0%) reported the highest expressed need.

INTERPRETATION:

Chronic pain is a major problem in the community and certain groups within the population are more likely to have chronic pain. A detailed understanding of the epidemiology of chronic pain is essential for efficient management of chronic pain in primary care.

Comment in

PMID:
10520633
DOI:
10.1016/s0140-6736(99)03057-3
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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