For immediate release: October 27, 2014
Contact: Chuck Weber - 262.473.3018
News from The Journal of Pain
Study Estimates Persistent Pain Incidence at 19% of U.S. Adults
CHICAGO, October 27, 2014—A new study published in The Journal of Pain reports that 39 million people in the United States or 19 percent have persistent pain, and the incidence varies according to age and gender. The Journal of Pain is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society, www.americanpainsociety.org.
Researchers at the Washington State University College of Nursing conducted the study. They defined persistent pain as frequent or constant pain lasting longer than three months. The intent of their research was:
- Identify groups at higher risk for persistent pain
- Identify body sites, chronic conditions and disabilities associated with persistent pain
- Assess the relationship between persistent pain and anxiety, depression and fatigue
- Describe the individual experience of persistent pain.
The study was performed using data from the 2010 Quality of Life Supplement of the National Heath Interview Survey (NHIS) to calculate the prevalence of persistent pain. Results of the analysis showed that approximately 19 percent of U.S. adults reported persistent pain in 2010, and older adults were more likely to experience persistent pain than younger adults. Women also had slightly higher risk than men.
The authors noted that persistent pain correlated with other indices of health-related quality of life, such as anxiety, depression and fatigue. Individuals with those conditions were far more likely to report persistent pain.
In 2011, the Institute of Medicine reported that 100 million Americans have chronic pain. The authors explained that the disparity between the estimated pain incidence in their study and what the IOM reported is attributable almost entirely to differences in operational definitions of persistent pain.
In the 2010 NHIS, an estimated 60 percent of adults reported lower back pain in the past three months, and all of them would have been described in the IOM report as having chronic pain. However, only 42 percent of the NHIS study respondents with back pain described their pain as frequent or daily and lasting more than three months.
From a public health perspective the difference is significant. Those with persistent pain have high rates of work disability, fatigue, anxiety and depression. They also are at higher risk for long-term exposure to and dependency on pain medications.
The authors concluded that measuring pain persistence has policy implications because persistent pain is an indicator of an unmet medical need for pain management in the general population, as well as a risk factor for anxiety and depression.
Chronic pain affects about 5 percent of children and adolescents. They seek more medical care, use more medication, miss more school, and report worse quality of life than their peers without pain. Before this paper was published, little was known about the costs of chronic pain in childhood and adolescence. Researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, therefore, sought to better understand the economic costs to society due to adolescent chronic pain. Study participants were 149 adolescents treated at interdisciplinary pain clinics.
Parents of study subjects completed validated measures of family economic attributes and reports on family health services use and productivity losses for 12 months due to a child’s chronic pain.
Results showed that the mean annual cost associated with chronic pain per participant was $11,787 and median cost was $6,770. Further, the costs tended to be concentrated in a small subset of the children. The top five percent of patients incurring the highest costs accounted for 30 percent of the total costs. The lower 75 percent of participants accounted for just 34 percent of the costs. Rotal costs for adolescents with moderate to severe chronic pain were extrapolated to $19.5 billion a year in the United States.
The authors concluded that future research should investigate the efficacy of a full range of less intensive outpatient interdisciplinary pain management interventions for adolescents with chronic pain, as well as Internet and mobile-based therapies.
About the American Pain Society
Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering. APS was founded in 1978 with 510 charter members. From the outset, the group was conceived as a multidisciplinary organization. The Board of Directors includes physicians, nurses, psychologists, basic scientists, pharmacists, policy analysts and others. For more information on APS, visit www.americanpainsociety.org.