Send to

Choose Destination
BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2008 Jul 15;9:102. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-9-102.

Prevalence of widespread pain and associations with work status: a population study.

Author information

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden.



This population study based on a representative sample from a Swedish county investigates the prevalence, duration, and determinants of widespread pain (WSP) in the population using two constructs and estimates how WSP affects work status. In addition, this study investigates the prevalence of widespread pain and its relationship to pain intensity, gender, age, income, work status, citizenship, civil status, urban residence, and health care seeking.


A cross-sectional survey using a postal questionnaire was sent to a representative sample (n = 9952) of the target population (284,073 people, 18-74 years) in a county (Ostergötland) in the southern Sweden. The questionnaire was mailed and followed by two postal reminders when necessary.


The participation rate was 76.7% (n = 7637); the non-participants were on the average younger, earned less money, and male. Women had higher prevalences of pain in 10 different predetermined anatomical regions. WSP was generally chronic (90-94%) and depending on definition of WSP the prevalence varied between 4.8-7.4% in the population. Women had significantly higher prevalence of WSP than men and the age effect appeared to be stronger in women than in men. WSP was a significant negative factor - together with age 50-64 years, low annual income, and non-Nordic citizen - for work status in the community and in the group with chronic pain. Chronic pain but not the spreading of pain was related to health care seeking in the population.


This study confirms earlier studies that report high prevalences of widespread pain in the population and especially among females and with increasing age. Widespread pain is associated with prominent effects on work status.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center