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Papers: 6 April 2024 - 12 April 2024

2024 Apr 06

J Pain


Risk of Unfavorable Trajectories of Chronic Pain Severity – Results of a Longitudinal Study in School Children.


Humberg C, Rau LM, Claus BB, Könning A, Stahlschmidt L, Wager J


Chronic pain is a common burden among children and adolescents associated with impairments in many aspects of life. Higher pain severity increases this burden. Subsequently, it is important to identify factors predicting the course of pain severity, classified by the Chronic Pain Grading. In a 1-year longitudinal assessment of a general school-age population (N=2280), we aimed to identify biopsychosocial factors associated with Chronic Pain Grading trajectories. We focused on children and adolescents who reported chronic pain at the start of the year (N=689). Using longitudinal latent class analysis, we identified three classes of Chronic Pain Grading trajectories over one year: 1) the “pain recovery group” exhibited initially moderate Chronic Pain Grading scores that rapidly and consistently decline to a pain-free level, 2) the “continuously moderate pain severity group” displayed initially high Chronic Pain Grading levels with a mild decline over time, 3) the “continuously low pain severity group” had initially moderate Chronic Pain Grading levels, which only slightly declined. In comparison to the pain recovery group, the continuously moderate pain severity group presented with heightened levels of anxiety (OR=1.12, 95%CI=[1.02;1.24], p=.023), depression (OR=1.10, 95%CI=[1.01;1.19], p=.029), and affective pain perception (OR=1.10, 95%CI=[1.02;1.18], p=.010) and were more likely to be female (OR=2.14, 95%CI=[1.05;4.35], p=.036). The continuously low pain severity group was predominantly female (OR=1.65, 95%CI=[1.10;2.49], p=.016) compared to the pain recovery group. In conclusion, girls and individuals with impaired psychological well-being more often exhibit unfavorable trajectories of chronic pain severity. PERSPECTIVE: Pediatric chronic pain patients, particularly females and those exhibiting elevated anxiety or depression scores or heightened affective pain perception warrant special attention in health care. These individuals have a greater risk of an unfavorable trajectory of chronic pain severity and might need more urgent and specialized treatment.