Pain as a reason to visit the doctor: a study in Finnish primary health care

Pain. 2001 Jan;89(2-3):175-80. doi: 10.1016/s0304-3959(00)00361-4.


This study aims to demonstrate the prevalence of pain as a reason for seeing a physician in primary care. We also performed an analysis of the localization, duration and frequency of pains, as well as the diagnoses of patients having pain. A total of 28 physicians at 25 health centers in Finland collected the data, comprising 5646 patient visits. Pain was identified as the reason for 2237 (40%) of the visits. The most common localizations were in the lower back, abdomen and head. One-fifth of the pain patients had experienced pain for over six months. Analysis of the diagnoses revealed half of the pains to be musculoskeletal. Patients experienced considerable limitations in various activities of life due to pain. A quarter of the pain patients of active working age received sick leave. Our results confirm that pain is a major primary health care problem, which has an enormous impact on public health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / diagnosis
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain Management*
  • Physicians, Family
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires