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Pain Research and Management
Volume 11, Issue 4, Pages 234-240
Original Article

Pain Prevalence in Nine- to 13-Year-Old School Children

Adam van Dijk,1 Patricia A McGrath,2,3 William Pickett,1 and Elizabeth G VanDenKerkhof1,4

1Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada
2Divisional Center of Pain Management and Pain Research, Hospital for Sick Children, Canada
3Department of Anesthesiology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
4Department of Anesthesiology, and School of Nursing, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2006 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Despite significant progress in the epidemiology of chronic pain in adults, major gaps remain in our understanding of the epidemiology of chronic pain in children. In particular, the incidence, prevalence and sensory characteristics of many types of pain in Canadian children are unknown.

OBJECTIVES: A study to obtain the lifetime and point prevalence of common acute pains, recurrent pain syndromes and chronic pains was conducted in a cohort of 495 school children, nine to 13 years of age, in eastern Ontario.

METHODS: Children reported their pain experiences and described the intensity, affect and duration of the pains experienced over the previous month by completing the Pain Experience Interview –Short Form.

RESULTS: The majority of children (96%) experienced some acute pain over the previous month, with headache (78%) being most frequently reported. Lifetime prevalence for certain acute pains differed significantly by sex (P<0.05). Fifty-seven per cent of children reported experiencing at least one recurrent pain, while 6% were identified as having had or currently having chronic pain.

DISCUSSION: The prevalence of acute pain in this Canadian cohort is consistent with international estimates of acute pain experiences (ie, headache) and recurrent pain problems (ie, recurring headache, abdominal pain and growing pains). However, 6% of children reported chronic pain. The self-completed Pain Experience Interview – Short Form provides a feasible administration technique for obtaining population estimates of childhood pain, and for conducting longitudinal studies to identify risk and prognostic factors for chronic pain.