Prevalence and characteristics of chronic pain in the general population of Hong Kong

J Pain. 2011 Feb;12(2):236-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2010.07.004. Epub 2010 Sep 27.


Western studies document the prevalence of chronic pain in the general adult population to be between 2 and 55%. Knowing the prevalence of chronic pain among Chinese populations provides important comparative perspective: To determine the prevalence of chronic pain in the general population of Hong Kong; evaluate the relationship of chronic pain with sociodemographic and lifestyle factors; and describe the pain characteristics among chronic pain sufferers. A total of 5,001 adults aged ≥ 18 years (response rate 58%) drawn from the general population of Hong Kong completed the Chronic Pain Grade (CPG) questionnaire, providing information on chronic pain and sociodemographic status using telephone interviews. Overall 34.9% reported pain lasting more than 3 months (chronic pain), having an average of 1.5 pain sites; 35.2% experienced multiple pain sites, most commonly of the legs, back, and head with leg and back being rated as the most significant pain areas among those with multiple pain problems. The CPG criteria classified 21.5% of those with chronic pain symptoms as Grade III or above. Fully adjusted stepwise regression analyses identified being female, older age, divorced/separated, having part-time employment, existing long-term health problems, higher HADS Anxiety scores, poor QoL (mental health component), and low self-perceived health to be significantly associated with chronic pain.

Perspective: Our data evidenced that chronic pain is common in the general population of Hong Kong, and the prevalence is highest among women and middle-aged adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / psychology
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Hong Kong / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain, Intractable / epidemiology*
  • Pain, Intractable / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Young Adult