Pain intensity is associated with self-reported disability for several domains of life in a sample of patients with musculoskeletal pain aged 50 or more

Disabil Health J. 2013 Oct;6(4):369-76. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 May 28.


Background: Most studies that investigate the impact of pain on function have focused on a particular pain site and use unidimensional measures of disability, making it difficult to know how pain impacts on different areas of functioning and whether different pain characteristics impact differently on function.

Aim: To investigate the relationship between pain characteristics and self-reported disability in patients with musculoskeletal pain aged ≥50 years.

Methods: Two hundred and four consecutive patients with musculoskeletal pain aged ≥50 years had their pain assessed (frequency, global pain intensity, pain intensity for the most painful site, location and number of pain sites) and were asked to fill in the World Health Organization Disability Assessment Schedule (WHODAS 2.0) that assesses disability in 6 domains of daily life.

Results: Most patients reported chronic (77.5%), multisite or widespread (55.4%) pain that was always present (90.2%) and of moderate to severe intensity (mean score for global pain intensity = 5.91; SD = 2.02). Mean WHODAS 2.0 total score was 28.06 and SD was 19.86, corresponding to moderate disability. When entering age, sex, level of education, depression, number of comorbid chronic conditions and pain characteristics in a stepwise regression analysis, global pain intensity was the most important predictor for the domains of getting around (adjusted R(2) = 0.21, p < 0.001), self-care (adjusted R(2) = 0.14, p < 0.001), household activities (adjusted R(2) = 0.20, p < 0.001) and work (adjusted R(2) = 0.34, p < 0.001) and total score (adjusted R(2) = 0.19, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Pain intensity seems to be an important predictor of disability for several domains of life, suggesting that pain-related disability should be assessed for these domains.

Keywords: Disability; Musculoskeletal pain; WHODAS 2.0.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Musculoskeletal Pain*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Care
  • Self Report*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Work