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Papers of the Week

Papers: 2 Mar 2024 - 7 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 03

J Pain


Reciprocal association between chronic pain and health insurance type in a population-based longitudinal cohort study.


Semaan K, Frech A, Tumin D


Chronic pain is a widespread condition limiting adults’ daily activities and labor force participation. In the US, withdrawal from the workforce could be associated with loss of health insurance coverage, while lack of health insurance coverage can limit access to diagnosis and management of chronic health conditions. We used a longitudinal cohort study of middle-aged adults to investigate whether chronic pain is reciprocally associated with coverage by any insurance and type of insurance coverage over a 2-year period (2018 and 2020). Among 5,137 participants (median age of 57 years in 2018), 29% reported chronic pain in either year, while 9-10% were uninsured each year. Using multivariable cross-lagged logistic regression analysis, chronic pain in 2018 was not associated with having any insurance coverage in 2020, and lack of coverage in 2018 was not associated with chronic pain in 2020. In further analysis, we determined that public coverage, other (non-private) coverage, or no coverage in 2018 were associated with increased risk of chronic pain in 2020; while chronic pain in 2018 increased the risk of coverage by public rather than private insurance 2 years later, as well as risk of coverage by other (non-private) payors. The reciprocal association of non-private insurance coverage and chronic pain may be related to insufficient access to chronic pain treatment among publicly insured adults, or qualification for public insurance based on disability among adults with chronic pain. These results demonstrate that accounting for type of health insurance coverage is critical when predicting chronic pain in US populations. PERSPECTIVE: In a longitudinal cohort study of middle-aged US adults, use of public and other non-private insurance predicts future experience of chronic pain, while past experience of chronic pain predicts future use of public and other non-private insurance.