Introduction: Estimates of the prevalence of chronic pain worldwide and in Canada are inconsistent. Our primary objectives were to determine the prevalence of chronic pain by sex and age and to determine the prevalence of pain-related interference for Canadian men and women between 1994 and 2008.
Methods: Using data from seven cross-sectional cycles in the National Population Health Survey and the Canadian Community Health Survey, we defined two categorical outcomes, chronic pain and pain-related interference with activities.
Results: Prevalence of chronic pain ranged from 15.1% in 1996/97 to 18.9% in 1994/95. Chronic pain was most prevalent among women (range: 16.5% to 21.5%), and in the oldest (65 years plus) age group (range: 23.9% to 31.3%). Women aged 65 years plus consistently reported the highest prevalence of chronic pain (range: 26.0% to 34.2%). The majority of adult Canadians who reported chronic pain also reported at least a few activities prevented due to this pain (range: 11.4% to 13.3% of the overall population).
Conclusion: Similar to international estimates, this Canadian population-based study confirms that chronic pain persists and impacts daily activities. Further study with more detailed definitions of pain and pain-related interference is warranted.