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Papers: 11 May 2024 - 17 May 2024

2024 May 15



The prevalence of chronic pain in children and adolescents: a systematic review update and meta-analysis.


Chambers CT, Dol J, Tutelman PR, Langley CL, Parker JA, Cormier BT, Macfarlane GJ, Jones GT, Chapman D, Proudfoot N, Grant A, Marianayagam J


Chronic pain, defined as persistent or recurring pain or pain lasting longer than 3 months, is a common childhood problem. The objective of this study was to conduct an updated systematic review and meta-analysis on the prevalence of chronic pain (ie, overall, headache, abdominal pain, back pain, musculoskeletal pain, multisite/general pain, and other) in children and adolescents. EMBASE, PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycINFO were searched for publications between January 1, 2009, and June 30, 2023. Studies reporting population-based estimates of chronic nondisease related pain prevalence in children or adolescents (age ≤ 19 years) were included. Two independent reviewers screened articles based on a priori protocol. One hundred nineteen studies with a total of 1,043,878 children (52.0% female, mean age 13.4 years [SD 2.4]) were included. Seventy different countries were represented, with the highest number of data points of prevalence estimates coming from Finland and Germany (n = 19 each, 4.3%). The overall prevalence of chronic pain in children and adolescents was 20.8%, with the highest prevalence for headache and musculoskeletal pain (25.7%). Overall, and for all types of pain except for back pain and musculoskeletal pain, there were significant differences in the prevalence between boys and girls, with girls having a higher prevalence of pain. There was high heterogeneity (I 2 99.9%). Overall risk of bias was low to moderate. In summary, approximately 1 in 5 children and adolescents experience chronic pain and prevalence varies by pain type; for most types, there is higher pain prevalence among girls than among boys. Findings echo and expand upon the systematic review conducted in 2011.