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Papers: 29 Jun 2024 - 5 Jul 2024

2024 Jun 26

J Pain


Examining the Relationship Between Chronic Pain and Mortality in U.S. Adults.


Ray BM, Kelleran KJ, Fodero JG, Harvell-Bowman LA


Chronic pain (CP) significantly impacts quality of life and increases non-communicable disease risk, with recent U.S. data showing a 6.3% incidence rate, surpassing diabetes, depression, and hypertension. International studies suggest higher mortality in CP populations, yet prior U.S. data is inconclusive. To investigate CP’s mortality risk, we analyzed National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and National Death Index (NDI) data. We hypothesized individuals with CP and high-impact CP (HICP, (≥1 activity limitation) would exhibit higher mortality rates. NHIS provided demographics, pain reporting, lifestyle, and psychosocial data, matched with NDI mortality records. Chi-Square analyses explored relationships between CP/HICP and demographics, lifestyle factors, psychosocial variables, and mortality. Cox proportional hazards models assessed mortality risk between groups. The weighted sample was 245,899,776; 20% reported CP and 8% HICP, both groups exhibiting higher mortality rates than pain-free individuals (CP: 5.55%, HICP: 8.79%, total: 2.82%). Hazard ratios indicated nearly double the mortality risk for CP and two-and-a-half times higher risk for HICP compared to those without these conditions. Adjusting for lifestyle and psychosocial factors reduced mortality risk but remained elevated compared to non-CP individuals. Heart disease, malignant neoplasms, and chronic lower respiratory diseases accounted for a higher percentage of deaths in CP cases. CP individuals showed higher rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, inactivity, depression, anxiety, emotional problems, and sleep disturbances. CP and HICP significantly influence mortality outcomes, leading to excess deaths compared to pain-free individuals. Given the relationship between pain, lifestyle, psychosocial variables, and mortality, further investigations are needed into CP causation and prevention strategies. PERSPECTIVE: This article presents evidence regarding the relationship between chronic pain, high impact chronic pain, and mortality. Additional findings are discussed regarding the impact of demographics, lifestyle, and psychosocial variables on mortality in those with versus without chronic pain and high impact chronic pain. These findings are crucial for informing future research, prevention, and healthcare management strategies.