Background: Musculoskeletal pain conditions are common and create substantial burden for the individual and society. While research has shown concordance between couples for risk of some diseases, e.g. heart disease or diabetes, little information is available on such effects for musculoskeletal pain conditions. Our aims were to investigate the presence of concordance between couples for consultations about pain, and to examine theoretical influences on such concordance.
Methods: This was a 1-year cross-sectional study of musculoskeletal pain consultations in a UK primary care database. In total 27,014 patients (13,507 couples) aged between 30 and 74 years were included. The main outcome measure was the presence of a musculoskeletal morbidity read code indicating a consultation for musculoskeletal conditions (any, back, neck, knee, shoulder, foot, osteoarthritis). Logistic regression was used to test associations with odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Results: Patients whose partner had a musculoskeletal pain consultation were also more likely to consult for a musculoskeletal condition (OR 1.22, 95% CI 1.12-1.32). This association was found to be strongest for shoulder disorders (OR 1.91, 95% CI 1.06-3.47). No significant associations were found for other pain conditions.
Conclusion: Results show that partner concordance is present for consultations for some musculoskeletal conditions but not others. Possible explanations for concordance include the shared health behaviours between couples leading to potential heightened awareness of symptoms. Given the high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain within populations, it may be worth considering further the mechanisms that explain partner concordance.
© 2015 The Authors. European Journal of Pain published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Pain Federation - EFIC®