The severity of chronic pediatric pain: an epidemiological study

J Pain. 2008 Mar;9(3):226-36. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2007.10.015. Epub 2007 Dec 21.


This study was designed to (1) provide information on the prevalence of pediatric pain as well as other pain related characteristics in a sample of schoolchildren, and (2) study the suitability of a system to grade the severity of chronic pain problems among children. Participants in this cross-sectional study included 561 schoolchildren between the ages of 8 and 16 years. Besides collecting information about the presence of pain at the time of interview, and in the preceding 3 months, several characteristics of participants' pain experiences and several indicators of participants' quality of life were requested. Results showed that 37.3% had chronic pain, but only 5.1% had moderate or severe chronic pain problems. Gender and age differences were found in the prevalence of pain conditions. Children who had a chronic pain condition reported a worse quality of life, missed more days from school, and were more likely to use pain medication and seek medical care for pain relief. Our study shows that chronic pain is a highly prevalent condition in the community, one that can exert negative consequence for the child. But the prevalence of severe chronic pain cases is low. New studies are needed to further empirically test the proposed method of grading the severity of chronic pain in children.

Perspective: This article provides information on pain problems among schoolchildren. It also suggests a new grading system of chronic pediatric problems. This new system could help clinicians and researchers to diagnose pain problems in youth and design treatments suited to patients' characteristics and needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Epidemiologic Studies*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / classification
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Severity of Illness Index