Health literacy, pain-related interference and pain-related distress of patients with musculoskeletal pain

Health Promot Int. 2023 Aug 1;38(4):daab183. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daab183.


The present study aimed to compare pain-related interference and pain-related distress in patients with musculoskeletal pain and differing levels of health literacy. A cross-sectional study was conducted among 243 patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain. Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults classified the level of health literacy. Outcome measures included pain-related interference (pain intensity and functional limitation) and pain-related distress (psychosocial factors). Analysis of variance methods were used. One hundred twenty-three (50.62%) participants were classified as adequate, 24 (9.88%) as marginal and 96 (39.50%) as inadequate health literacy. Patients with inadequate health literacy had higher values of pain severity compared to the other groups, when controlled for age. The group adequate health literacy showed less kinesiophobia compared to their counterparts. Functional limitations and other psychosocial factors were similar among groups. Pain severity and kinesiophobia had disadvantageous findings in participants with inadequate health literacy. Still, the results of pain severity must be approached cautiously because the differences were observed when controlled for age solely.

Keywords: chronic pain; health literacy; musculoskeletal pain; pain education.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Pain*