A population-based survey of chronic pain and its treatment with prescription drugs

Pain. 2011 Jun;152(6):1249-1255. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2010.12.036. Epub 2011 Mar 11.


Chronic pain is a common reason for medical visits, but prevalence estimates vary between studies and have rarely included drug treatment data. This study aimed to examine characteristics of chronic pain and its relation to demographic and health factors, and factors associated with treatment of pain with opioid analgesics. A chronic pain module was added to the 2007 Kansas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (response rate = 61%). Data on prevalence, duration, frequency, and severity of chronic pain, demographics, and health were collected from a representative sample of 4090 adults 18 years and older by telephone. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of both chronic pain and opioid use with demographic and health factors. Chronic pain was reported by 26.0% of the participants and was associated with activity limitations (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 3.6, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 2.8-4.5), arthritis (AOR = 3.3, 95% CI 2.6-4.0), poor mental health (AOR = 2.0, 95% CI 1.4-2.8), poor overall health (AOR = 1.9; 95% CI 1.5-2.5), and obesity (AOR = 1.6; 95% CI 1.2-2.0). Of the 33.4% of people with pain who use prescription pain medication, 45.7% took opioids, including 36.7% of those with mild pain. Chronic pain affects a quarter of adults in Kansas and is associated with poor health. Opioid analgesics are the mainstay of prescribed pharmacotherapy in this group, even among those reporting mild pain. Chronic pain affects 26.0% of adults in the state of Kansas, U.S.A. Overall, 45.7% of people who take prescription drugs for chronic pain reported taking opioid analgesics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Analgesics / classification
  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Community Health Planning
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kansas / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Pain Measurement / statistics & numerical data
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Prevalence
  • Product Surveillance, Postmarketing
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics
  • Prescription Drugs