Get access

Chronic pain in South Australia – population levels that interfere extremely with activities of daily living

Authors

  • David C. Currow,

    1. Discipline of Palliative and Supportive Services, Flinders Centre for Clinical Change, Flinders University, South Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Meera Agar,

    1. Discipline of Palliative and Supportive Services, Flinders Centre for Clinical Change, Flinders University, South Australia. Department of Palliative Care, Braeside Hospital, New South Wales and Sydney South West Clinical School, University of New South Wales
    Search for more papers by this author
  • John L. Plummer,

    1. Department of Anaesthesia and Pain Management, Flinders Medical Centre, South Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Fiona M. Blyth,

    1. University of Sydney Pain Management and Research Centre, Royal North Shore Hospital, New South Wales
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Amy P. Abernethy

    1. Discipline of Palliative and Supportive Services, Flinders Centre for Clinical Change, Flinders University, South Australia and Department of Medicine, Division of Medical Oncology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, United States
    Search for more papers by this author

Correspondence to:
Prof. David Currow, Flinders University, 700 Goodwood Rd, Daw Park, South Australia, 5000. Fax: (08) 82751343; e-mail: david.currow@health.sa.gov.au

Abstract

Objective: The prevalence of chronic pain in Australia has only been previously estimated for the state of New South Wales. The aim of this study was to focus estimates on pain severe enough to interfere markedly with daily function irrespective of contact with health services in another region, South Australia.

Methods: A whole of population random face-to-face survey method (n=2,973) was used, directly standardised against the whole population for age, gender, country of birth and rurality. Respondents were asked about chronic pain and the degree to which it interfered with daily activities.

Results: The prevalence of chronic pain was 17.9%, and pain that interfered extremely with activity 5.0%. Chronic pain was associated with older age, living alone, lower income, not being in full-time work and lower educational levels in bivariate analyses, however in multifactor analyses the only significant associations were not currently working (p<0.001) and lower levels of educational achievement (p=0.042). Pain that interfered extremely with activity in multifactor analysis was associated with work status where the odds ratio for work-related injury compared to those in full time work was 19.3 (95% CI 7.30-51.3; p<0.001).

Conclusions: This study highlights the high levels of pain with extreme effects on day-to-day life (one in 20 people), the complex inter-relationships of the factors (educational achievement, work status) associated with chronic pain and the impacts that these factors have on the people experiencing such disabling pain in the long-term.

Ancillary