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Pain Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 371248, 30 pages
Review Article

Epidemiology of Chronic Pain in Denmark and Sweden

1Kleijnen Systematic Reviews Ltd., 6 Escrick Business Park, Escrick, York YO19 6FD, UK
2KJ Research, Rosemere, QC, Canada J7A 4N8
3BeSyRe Bekkering Systematic Reviews, 2440 Geel, Belgium
4Center for Evidence Based Medicine, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
5Leuven Centre for Cancer Prevention, University Hospital Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium
62nd Department of Internal Medicine, Jagiellonian University Medical College, 31-066 Krakow, 8 Skawinska Street, Poland
7School for Public Health and Primary Care (CAPHRI), University of Maastricht, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands

Received 1 February 2012; Accepted 7 February 2012

Academic Editor: Donald A. Simone

Copyright © 2012 Julie Harker et al. 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.


Introduction. Estimates on the epidemiology of chronic pain vary widely throughout Europe. It is unclear whether this variation reflects true differences between populations or methodological factors. Information on the epidemiology of chronic pain can support decision makers in allocating adequate health care resources. Methods. In order to obtain epidemiological data on chronic pain in Denmark and Sweden, we conducted a literature review of epidemiological data primarily on chronic noncancer pain, prioritising studies of highest quality, recency, and validity by conducting a systematic search for relevant studies. Following quality assessment, data were summarised and assigned to the research questions. Results. The prevalence of moderate to severe noncancer pain was estimated at 16% in Denmark and 18% in Sweden. Chronic pain impacts negatively on perceived health status, quality of life and is associated with increased cost. Despite using pain medications, a large proportion of chronic pain sufferers have inadequate pain control. There was a lack of high-quality and low-bias studies with clear inclusion criteria. Conclusions. In both Denmark and Sweden, chronic pain is a common health problem which is potentially undertreated and warrants attention of health care workers, policy makers and researchers. Future research should utilise clear reporting guidelines to assist decision and policy makers, in this important area.