Prevalence of pain reporting and associated health outcomes across emerging markets and developed countries

Pain Med. 2014 Nov;15(11):1880-91. doi: 10.1111/pme.12542. Epub 2014 Sep 12.


Objective: The current study represents the first broad, multi-country, population-based survey of pain, assessing the association between pain and health outcomes, plus comparing the burden of pain across emerging and developed countries.

Design: Data from the 2011/2012 National Health and Wellness Surveys were used. Respondents reporting pain (neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, back pain, surgery pain, and/or arthritis pain) vs no pain in emerging (Brazil, China, Russia) vs developed (European Union, Japan, United States) countries were compared on sociodemographic characteristics and measures of quality of life (SF-12v2 and SF-36v2), work productivity and activity impairment, and health care resource use.

Subjects: Respondents included 128,821 without pain and 29,848 with pain in developed countries, and 37,244 without pain and 4,789 with pain in emerging countries.

Results: Pain reporting and treatment rates were lower in China (6.2% and 28.3%, respectively) and Japan (4.4% and 26.3%, respectively) than in other countries (≥ 14.3% and 35.8%, respectively). Significant impairments in quality of life, productivity, and resource use were associated with pain across all health outcomes in both developed and emerging countries, with some productivity and physical health status impairments greater with pain in developed countries, whereas mental health status impairment and resource use were greater with pain in emerging countries.

Conclusions: Pain was associated with burden across all study outcomes in all regions. Yet, differences emerged in the degree of impairment, pain reporting, diagnosis, treatment rates, and characteristics of patients between emerging and developed nations, thus helping guide a broader understanding of this highly prevalent condition globally.

Keywords: Developed Countries; Emerging Markets; Health Outcomes; Pain Reporting; Prevalence; Quality of Life; Treatment Prevalence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness*
  • Data Collection
  • Developed Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Developing Countries / statistics & numerical data*
  • Efficiency
  • Global Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Pain / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life