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Papers of the Week

Papers: 28 Oct 2023 - 3 Nov 2023

2023 Oct 30

J Pain


Bullying involvement and physical pain between ages 10 and 13 years: reported history and quantitative sensory testing in a population-based cohort.


Lucas R, Talih M, Soares S, Fraga S


We aimed to quantify the prospective association between bullying and physical pain in a population-based cohort of adolescents. We assessed 4049 participants of the 10 and 13 years waves of the Generation XXI birth cohort study in Portugal. Pain history was collected using the Luebeck pain screening questionnaire. A subsample of 1727 adolescents underwent computerized cuff pressure algometry to estimate pain detection/tolerance thresholds, temporal pain summation and conditioned pain modulation. Participants completed the Bully Scale Survey and were classified as “victim only”, “both victim and aggressor”, “aggressor only”, or “not involved”. Associations were quantified using Poisson or linear regression, adjusted for sex and adverse childhood experiences. When compared to adolescents “not involved”, participants classified as “victim only” or “both victim and aggressor” at age 10 had higher risk of pain with psychosocial triggers, pain that led to skipping leisure activities, multisite pain, pain of higher intensity, and pain of longer duration, with relative risks between 1.21 (95% confidence interval: 0.99, 1.49) and 2.17 (1.57, 3.01). “Victims only” at age 10 had lower average pain detection and tolerance thresholds at 13 years [linear regression coefficients: -1.81 (-3.29, -0.33) and -2.73 (-5.17, -0.29) kPa, respectively], as well as higher pain intensity ratings [0.37 (0.07, 0.68) and 0.39 (0.06, 0.72) mm], when compared with adolescents not involved. No differences were seen for the remaining bullying profiles or sensory measures. Our findings suggest that bullying may have long-term influence on the risk of chronic musculoskeletal pain and may interfere with responses to painful stimuli. PERSPECTIVE: We found prospective evidence that bullying victimization in youth: 1) is more likely to lead to negative reported pain experiences than the reverse, 2) may have long-term influence on adverse pain experiences, and 3) may contribute to pain phenotypes partly by interfering with somatosensory responses to painful stimuli.