Aim: To assess health-related quality of life (HR-QoL) and academic functioning in adolescents and young adults 6 years after paediatric referral for chronic pain.
Methods: In 99 children and adolescents with chronic pain (aged 8–17) referred to a paediatric outpatient clinic, pain and psychiatric disorders were assessed between 2000 and 2002. Participants were reassessed after minimal 5 years (aged 13–24). HR-QoL [Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form (SF-36)] was compared with Dutch population norms. Academic functioning (structured questionnaire) was compared with baseline.
Results: Participant’s ratings in most HR-QoL dimensions did not differ from population norms. Outcome was significantly decreased in Bodily Pain (p = 0.001 males, p < 0.000 females) and female General Health (p = 0.001). Poor general health perceptions (p = 0.002), poor global general health (p = 0.003) and a high somatic symptom level (p = 0.004) at baseline predicted poor HR-QoL outcome. School/work attendance was significantly better than at baseline (p = 0.002).
Conclusion: Six years after paediatric referral for chronic pain, HR-QoL was mostly comparable to that of peers, and academic functioning improved. Self-evaluated global health at referral may be an important predictor of HR-QoL outcome of children with chronic pain, rather than psychiatric comorbidity.