Racial and socioeconomic disparities in disabling chronic pain: Findings from the Health and Retirement Study.

TitleRacial and socioeconomic disparities in disabling chronic pain: Findings from the Health and Retirement Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsJanevic, MR, McLaughlin, SJ, Heapy, AA, Thacker, C, Piette, JD
JournalThe Journal of Pain: Official Journal of the American Pain Society
ISSN Number1528-8447
KeywordsChronic pain, Racial/ethnic differences, Socioeconomic factors

The U.S. National Pain Strategy calls for increased population research on "high impact chronic pain," i.e., longstanding pain that substantially limits participation in daily activities. Using data from the nationally-representative Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we investigated the prevalence of high-impact chronic pain in U.S. adults over age 50 overall and within population subgroups. We also explored sociodemographic variation in pain-related disability within specific activity domains. Data are from a subsample of HRS respondents (n=1,925) who were randomly selected for a supplementary pain module in 2010. Our outcome was operationalized as pain duration of >7 months and a disability rating of >7 (0 to 10 scale) in at least one domain: family/home, leisure, social activities, work, or basic activities. Overall, 8.2% (95% C.I. = 6.7 to 10.1%) of adults over age 50 met criteria for high-impact chronic pain. This proportion rose to 17.1% (95% C.I. = 12.3 to 23.4%) among individuals in the lowest wealth quartile. Prevalence differences by education, race/ethnicity and age were not significant. Arthritis and depression were significantly associated with high-impact pain in multivariable analysis. Among adults with any chronic pain, African Americans and individuals in the lowest wealth quartile reported more pain-related disability across activity domains.


p>PERSPECTIVE: High-impact chronic pain is unequally distributed among midlife and older U.S. adults. Efforts to reduce the burden of disabling chronic pain should prioritize socioeconomically vulnerable groups, who may have the least access to multi-modal pain treatment to improve function.

User Guide Notes


Alternate JournalJ Pain
Citation Key9249
PubMed ID28760648
PubMed Central IDPMC5682226
Grant ListK01 AG050706 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P30 DK092926 / DK / NIDDK NIH HHS / United States
U01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States