The impact of chronic pain: the perspective of patients, relatives, and caregivers

Fam Syst Health. 2014 Dec;32(4):399-407. doi: 10.1037/fsh0000069. Epub 2014 Jul 7.


To assess the impact of chronic pain on the family environment from the patient's, relative's and caregiver's perspective, we undertook cross-sectional study on a representative sample of Spanish adults who suffered pain at least 4 days a week for ≥3 months and on relatives and caregivers of patients that fulfilled these criteria. The characteristics of pain and the perception of its impact on the family environment were assessed, using logistic regression models to reveal the variables associated with the impact of pain on the family. From a total of 1,957 subjects, 325 experienced chronic pain and 34.6% of them perceived that their pain affected their family environment. These patients recognized a stronger impact when their relatives were sad (OR = 3.61; CI:1.57, 8.27) and had modified the leisure activities because of the pain (OR = 3.62; CI:1.56, 8.38). Among the 131 relatives, 51.2% perceived that pain was affecting the family, causing changes in their leisure activities (OR = 1.17; CI:1.04, 9.94) and sleep disturbance (OR = 1.40; CI:1.32, 12.58). Of the 36 caregivers, mainly women over 50 years of age, 66.7% indicated that pain affected the family, although 72.8% were satisfied with the help they provided. Chronic pain has a very strong impact on the family, although this is perceived distinctly by patients, relatives, and caregivers. Recognizing that factors related to pain affect the family's well-being, and adopting a global approach to pain that takes into consideration the family's experiences, should improve the therapeutic response, and enhance the patient's and relative's quality of life. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caregivers / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / complications
  • Chronic Pain / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / therapy
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Family Relations / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Change*
  • Young Adult