The prevalence and associated features of chronic widespread pain in the community using the 'Manchester' definition of chronic widespread pain

Rheumatology (Oxford). 1999 Mar;38(3):275-9. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/38.3.275.


Objective: We examine the descriptive epidemiology of chronic widespread pain using the 'Manchester' definition [CWP(M)] and assess psychosocial and other features which characterize subjects with such pain according to these more stringent criteria.

Methods: A population postal survey of 3004 subjects was conducted in the Greater Manchester area of the UK.

Results: The point prevalence of Manchester-defined chronic widespread pain was 4.7%. CWP(M) was associated with psychological disturbance [risk ratio (RR) = 2.2, 95% confidence interval (CI) (1.4-3.5)], fatigue [RR = 3.8, 95% CI (2.3-6.1)], low levels of self-care [RR = 2.2, 95% CI (1.4-3.6)] and with the reporting of other somatic symptoms [RR = 2.0, 95% CI (1.3-3.1)]. Hypochondriacal beliefs and a preoccupation with bodily symptoms were also associated with the presence of CWP(M).

Conclusion: This definition of chronic widespread pain is more precise in identifying subjects with truly widespread pain and its associated adverse psychosocial factors. Clear associations with other 'non-pain' somatic symptoms were identified, which further supports the hypothesis that chronic widespread pain is one feature of somatization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • England / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / complications
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Factors
  • Somatoform Disorders / etiology