A prognostic approach to defining chronic pain across a range of musculoskeletal pain sites

Clin J Pain. 2013 May;29(5):411-6. doi: 10.1097/AJP.0b013e318257099e.


Objectives: To test whether the prognostic definition of chronic pain, which has previously been applied in specific anatomic areas, performed well in a cohort of older adults with a range of musculoskeletal pain sites.

Methods: Data are taken from the Prognostic Research Study of adults aged 50 years and above consulting their general practitioner with any musculoskeletal pain, who completed postal surveys immediately after consultation and 12 months later. Baseline risk of clinically significant pain persisting at 12 months' follow-up, defined as a Chronic Pain Grade ≥II, was calculated using the prognostic approach, which includes a range of pain and related factors. The approach was implemented using logistic regression models, and the performance of the approach, including cutoffs in the score to define groups with differing levels of risk, was assessed in terms of calibration and discrimination.

Results: Application of the original risk cutoffs created groups with increasing proportions of chronic pain (area under the curve =0.79). However, the probability of chronic pain in each group was higher than expected by the model. New cutoffs were defined for this group of older adults: score ≤5=probability of chronic pain <20%, ≤11=probability <50%, ≤16=probability <80%, which resulted in good calibration of the model.

Discussion: The prognostic approach to defining chronic pain is suitable for use in older adults consulting primary care with musculoskeletal pain at a range of sites, but new cutoffs are needed to allow for the higher risk profile in this group. An adapted version of this method may also have the potential for application directly within the clinical consultation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthralgia / diagnosis*
  • Arthralgia / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Pain / diagnosis*
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement / methods*
  • Pain Measurement / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Prognosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology