Prevalence of self-reported chronic pain among adolescents: Evidence from 42 countries and regions

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Journal Article
European Journal of Pain (United Kingdom), 2019, 23 (2), pp. 316 - 326
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© 2018 European Pain Federation - EFIC ® Background: Reports of the overall chronic pain prevalence and its associated demographic characteristics among adolescents vary greatly across existing studies. Using internationally comparable data, this study investigates age, sex and country-level effects in the prevalence of chronic single-site and multi-site pain among adolescents during the last six months preceding the survey. Methods: Data (n = 214,283) from the 2013/2014 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study were used including nationally representative samples of 11-, 13- and 15-year-olds from general schools in 42 participating countries. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were used. Results: The overall proportion of adolescents reporting chronic weekly pain during the last six months was high (44.2%). On average, in comparison with different specific localized types of single-site pain, the prevalence of multi-site pain was more common varying from 13.2% in Armenia to 33.8% in Israel. Adolescent age and sex were strong predictors for reporting pain, but significantly different demographic patterns were found in the cross-country analyses. The most consistent findings indicate that multi-site pain was more prevalent among girls across all countries and that the prevalence increased with age. Conclusions: Internationally comparable data suggest that self-reported chronic pain among adolescents is highly prevalent, but different age and sex patterns across countries exist. Adolescents with chronic pain are not a homogenous group. Chronic pain co-occurrence and differences in chronic pain characteristics should be addressed in both clinical and public health practice for effective adolescent chronic pain management and prevention. Significance: Chronic pain co-occurrence is common during adolescence across countries, the prevalence being among girls and in older age groups. Significant cross-country variations in the chronic pain prevalence and chronic pain patterns among adolescents exist. Significant country differences emerge for specific chronic pain patterns in association with adolescent demographics.
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