Health care resources are more likely to be used by most of the adults with severe chronic pain

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Health care resources are more likely to be used by most of the adults with severe chronic pain

According to the National Institutes of Health's National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), an estimated 25.3 million adults in America are experiencing chronic pain, and NCCIH conducted a new analysis using data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which focused the frequency and intensity of pain in three months prior to the survey, to analyze the prevalence and severity of pain in the State. The study involved 8,781 adults who completed the Functioning and Disability Supplement in the survey.

According to researchers, approximately 126.1 million adults reported some pain, with 23.4 million reporting a great deal. “This report begins to answer calls for better national data on the nature and extent of the pain problem,” said Richard L. Nahin, PhD, MPH, the study author and lead epidemiologist for NCCIH, in a press release. The participants were further assigned on the basis of pain persistence and intensity of pain (ranging from category 1 for low to 4 for high) and they found that 25.4 million adults reported category 3, while 14.4 million reported category 4 pain. These participants were more likely to have worse overall health and use more health care, which in turn suffer more disability than people with less severe pain.

“The experience of pain is subjective. It’s not surprising, then, that the data show varied responses to pain even in those with similar levels of pain. Continuing analyses of these data may help identify subpopulations that would benefit from additional pain treatment options,” said Dr. Nahin.

The researchers noted associations between pain severity and demographic factors such as race, sex and age. Women, older individuals and non-Hispanics were more likely to report any form or level of pain. “The number of people who suffer from severe and lasting pain is striking,” said Josephine P. Briggs, MD, the director of NCCIH, in a press release. “This analysis adds valuable new scope to our understanding of pain and could inform the National Pain Strategy in the areas of population research and disparities. It may help shape future research, development and targeting of effective pain interventions, including complementary health approaches.”

The National Pain Strategy, produced in draft form for public comment until May 20, includes objectives and plans related to key areas of pain and pain care, including professional education and training, public education and communication, service delivery and reimbursement, prevention and care, disparities and population research.

The Journal of Pain
Exploratory, Chronic pain, National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
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