Epidemiological studies estimate prevalence rates of chronic pain in young adults (18-25 yrs) at 15-30%. Despite this high rate in the general population, few studies have examined pain impact in clinical samples of young adults seeking chronic pain treatment. Understanding individual factors potentially associated with pain interference (e.g., patient sex, opiate use, body mass index/BMI) might help identify targets for treatment or prevention. We examine clinical characteristics of young adults (17-23 yrs) seeking treatment for chronic pain, with the goal of elucidating factors associated with higher levels of overall pain interference and sexual interference. Data was collected for all patients (n=298) seen for initial evaluation in an academic medical center’s adult outpatient multidisciplinary pain clinic in a 4 year period (2007-2010). Patients completed an intake questionnaire assessing pain location(s), pain severity, overall pain interference (BPI: Brief Pain Inventory), and sexual interference due to pain (additional single item parallel to BPI items). Chart review identified prescribed medications for pain, as well as height and weight (used to calculate BMI). Multiple regression and t-tests were used to test whether sex, opiate prescription, or BMI was associated with interference outcomes. Mean age was 20.2yrs (SD=1.7); 61.8% were female. Primary pain locations included back (57.6%), joint/limb (15.2%), head (6.7%), neck (6.7%), and abdomen (4.9%). The majority of the sample (79.4%) reported pain in 2 or more locations. Opiates were prescribed to 24.4% of the sample. BPI pain interference was moderate, M=6.43 (SD=2.10), and sexual interference was lower, M=4.26 (SD=4.10). Overall pain interference, but not sexual interference, was higher among patients prescribed opiates (p<.05). No sex differences were observed. In a model predicting overall pain interference, higher BMI and opiate use were significantly associated with higher interference (p’s<.05), suggesting that medication and general health factors may play a role in pain interference for young adults.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.