Chronic pain epidemiology and its clinical relevance

Br J Anaesth. 2013 Jul;111(1):13-8. doi: 10.1093/bja/aet123.


Chronic pain affects ∼20% of the European population and is commoner in women, older people, and with relative deprivation. Its management in the community remains generally unsatisfactory, partly because of lack of evidence for effective interventions. Epidemiological study of chronic pain, through an understanding of its distribution and determinants, can inform the development, targeting, and evaluation of interventions in the general population. This paper reviews current knowledge of risk markers associated with chronic pain and considers how these might inform management and prevention. Risk factors include socio-demographic, clinical, psychological, and biological factors. These are relevant to our understanding of chronic pain mechanisms and the nature of, and responses to, current and future treatments.

Keywords: chronic pain; pain, psychological variables; risk; statistics, epidemiology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chronic Pain / psychology
  • Comorbidity
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors