Factors Associated With Adolescent Chronic Non-Specific Pain, Chronic Multisite Pain, and Chronic Pain With High Disability: The Young–HUNT Study 2008

  • Gry Børmark Hoftun
    Address reprint requests to Gry Børmark Hoftun, MD, NTNU, Faculty of Medicine, Department for Laboratory Medicine, Children’s and Women’s Health, PO Box 8905, Medisinsk teknisk forskningssenter, 7491 Trondheim, Norway.
    Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children's and Women's Health, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

    Department of Pediatrics, St.Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
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  • Pål Richard Romundstad
    Department of Public Health and General Practice, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
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  • Marite Rygg
    Department of Laboratory Medicine, Children's and Women's Health, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

    Department of Pediatrics, St.Olavs Hospital, Trondheim, Norway
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      The aim of this study was to assess the association of chronic pain with different lifestyle factors and psychological symptoms in a large, unselected adolescent population. Pain was evaluated as chronic non-specific pain, chronic multisite pain, and in additional analyses, chronic pain with high disability. The study was performed during 2006 to 2008 in Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway. Adolescents aged 13 to 18 years were invited to participate. The response rate was 78%. The final study population consisted of 7,373. Sedentary behavior and pain were associated only in girls. In both sexes, overweight and obesity were associated with increased odds of pain. Whereas both smoking and alcohol intoxication showed strong associations with pain, the associations were attenuated after adjustments for psychosocial factors. Symptoms of anxiety and depression showed the strongest associations with pain (odds ratio 4.1 in girls and 3.7 in boys). The odds of pain increased gradually by number of unfavorable lifestyle factors reported. This study revealed consistent associations between lifestyle factors, anxiety and depression, and chronic pain, including multisite pain and pain with high disability. The consistency across the different pain categories suggests common underlying explanatory mechanisms, and despite the cross-sectional design, the study indicates several modifiable targets in the management of adolescent chronic pain.


      This study showed a clear and consistent relation between different lifestyle factors, anxiety and depression, and the pain categories chronic non-specific pain, multisite pain, and also pain with high disability. Independent of causality, it underlines the importance of a broad perspective when studying, preventing, and treating chronic pain in adolescents.

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