Adverse impacts of chronic pain on health-related quality of life, work productivity, depression and anxiety in a community-based study

Fam Pract. 2017 Nov 16;34(6):656-661. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmx034.


Background: Chronic pain has major clinical and social consequences. Few studies have examined any variation in the extent of impairment on quality of life and work productivity by site and type of chronic pain.

Objective: The objective of our study is to examine adverse impacts of chronic pain on physical and psychological health and work productivity.

Methods: Our community-population study was based on a phone-interview of adults with chronic pain, residing in Olmsted County, MN. Chronic pain groups were categorized into abdominal pain, back pain, joint pain, multisite pain, neuropathic pain or no chronic pain. We used standardized instruments, including the Brief Pain Inventory, the Patients Health Questionnair-9, and Work Productivity and Activity Impairment Questionnaire.

Results: We evaluated 591 patients suffering from chronic pain and 150 participants with no chronic pain. Almost one third of patients with multisite pain (33%) and neuropathic pain (32%) reported mild/major depressive symptoms. Patients suffering from chronic pain, particularly from multisite pain and neuropathic pain, reported significant pain interferences with daily activities and impairments in physical function. Chronic pain was significantly associated with reduced performance at work but not with missed work hours. The average reported reduction in work productivity ranged from 2.4 hours (±5.6) per week for adults with joint chronic pain to 9.8 hours (±11.1) per week for adults with multisite chronic pain.

Conclusions: Chronic pain, particularly multisite pain and neuropathic pain, significantly affected physical and psychological health. Chronic pain is a multifaceted health condition that requires a multidisciplinary treatment approach.

Keywords: Chronic pain; depression; epidemiology; pain; primary health care; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absenteeism
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Chronic Pain / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Employment / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Quality of Life*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires