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Pain. 2001 Jan;89(2-3):127-34.

Chronic pain in Australia: a prevalence study.

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Pain Management and Research Centre, University of Sydney, Royal North Shore Hospital, St. Leonards, NSW 2065, Australia.


This study reports chronic pain prevalence in a randomly selected sample of the adult Australian population. Data were collected by Computer-Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI) using randomly generated telephone numbers and a two-stage stratified sample design. Chronic pain was defined as pain experienced every day for three months in the six months prior to interview. There were 17,543 completed interviews (response rate=70.8%). Chronic pain was reported by 17.1% of males and 20.0% of females. For males, prevalence peaked at 27.0% in the 65--69 year age group and for females, prevalence peaked at 31.0% in the oldest age group (80--84 years). Having chronic pain was significantly associated with older age, female gender, lower levels of completed education, and not having private health insurance; it was also strongly associated with receiving a disability benefit (adjusted OR=3.89, P<0.001) or unemployment benefit (adjusted OR=1.99, P<0.001); being unemployed for health reasons (adjusted OR=6.41, P<0.001); having poor self-rated health (adjusted OR=7.24, P<0.001); and high levels of psychological distress (adjusted OR=3.16, P<0.001). Eleven per cent of males and 13.5% of females in the survey reported some degree of interference with daily activities caused by their pain. Prevalence of interference was highest in the 55--59 year age group in both males (17.2%) and females (19.7%). Younger respondents with chronic pain were proportionately most likely to report interference due to pain, affecting 84.3% of females and 75.9% of males aged 20--24 years with chronic pain. Within the subgroup of respondents reporting chronic pain, the presence of interference with daily activities caused by pain was significantly associated with younger age; female gender; and not having private health insurance. There were strong associations between having interfering chronic pain and receiving disability benefits (adjusted OR=3.31, P<0.001) or being unemployed due to health reasons (adjusted OR=7.94, P<0.001, respectively). The results show that chronic pain impacts upon a large proportion of the adult Australian population, including the working age population, and is strongly associated with markers of social disadvantage.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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