Objective: The aim of this study is to estimate the prevalence and diagnostic pattern of pain at the primary care level during one year in a group practice. This practice serves the patients of a geographically defined area with approximately 14,000 inhabitants.
Design: Retrospective analysis of all computerised records of a GP group practice during one year, using a combined computerised search technique and manual check-up.
Setting: Tumba Primary Care District, Stockholm County, Sweden.
Subjects: All records of patients who visited Tumba primary care practice during one year.
Main outcome measures: Pain diagnoses, pain duration, analgesic use, pain category, and referrals.
Results: Little less than 30% of the patients, who were treated at a primary care practice, had some kind of medically defined pain problem, requiring the attention of a GP. A little less than half of these patients received a prescription for analgesic drugs. The pain diagnoses at a primary care level showed a predominance of musculoskeletal pain. The patients with pain were much older than population and total practice patients. Among the patients, 37% were in a state of acute pain, 37% suffered from chronic pain, 13% had an intermediate pain duration of 1-3 months, and 11% had a chronic intermittent pain condition (predominantly migraine).
Conclusions: Painful states of the musculoskeletal system constitute more than 2/3 of painful states in primary care. Viewed from a primary care perspective, pain has a great impact on GPs' day-to-day activities and on health economy in general.