Nationwide cross-sectional study of the impact of chronic pain on an individual's employment: relationship with the family and the social support

BMJ Open. 2016 Dec 23;6(12):e012246. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012246.


Objectives: To determine the prevalence and the factors related to sick leave and job loss among individuals suffering from chronic pain (CP), and to analyse specifically the effect of family and social support on the individual's employment.

Design: Observational cross-sectional study.

Setting: Data were collected using structured computer-assisted telephone interviews between February and June 2011.

Participants: A nationwide study of 1543 Spanish adults of working age (<65), 213 of whom suffered from CP (pain suffered at least 4 or 5 days a week during the past 3 months, according to the criteria of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP)).

Main outcome measure: Information was collected regarding the individual's sociodemographic status, pain characteristics, healthcare use and satisfaction, limitations in daily activities, mood status, perception of the impact of pain on their families, and their satisfaction with the family and social support. To identify factors associated with sick leave and job loss among those suffering CP, 2 logistic regression models were generated.

Results: The prevalence of sick leave due to CP in the general Spanish population was 4.21% (95% CI 3.2% to 5.2%). Sick leave were more likely for individuals who considered their family were affected by their pain (OR=2.18), needed help to dressing and grooming (OR=2.98), taking medication (OR=2.18), had a shorter pain duration (OR=0.99) and higher educational level. The prevalence of job loss due to CP was 1.8% (95% CI 1.1% to 2.5%). It was related to feelings of sadness (OR=4.25), being unsatisfied with the care provided by health professionals (OR=2.60) and consulting a doctor more often due to CP (OR=1.09).

Conclusions: CP is negatively associated with an individual's employment. This detrimental effect could be ameliorated if the factors related to sick leave and job loss provoked by CP are identified, especially those related to the effect of CP on the family and social environment.

Keywords: Chronic Pain; Family impact; Job loss; Sick leave.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics
  • Chronic Pain / economics*
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Emotions
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Prevalence
  • Sick Leave*
  • Social Support*
  • Spain
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unemployment*
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics