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.