An epidemiological comparison of pain complaints in the general population of Catalonia (Spain)

Antònia Bassols, Fèlix Bosch, Mercedes Campillo, Montserrat Cañellas, Josep Eladi Baños

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141 Citations (Scopus)


Epidemiological studies help to establish the health status in a country and allow a better allocation of economic resources. This survey estimated pain prevalence in Catalonia (Spain), analysed its relationship with demographic variables and evaluated pain-associated disabilities. The study was carried out in 1964 adults via phone interviews asking about any pain complaint they experienced in the last 6 months, regardless of its intensity and duration. Overall pain prevalence was 78.6%, significantly lower in men, with a trend to decrease with age. Back (50.9%), head (42%) and legs (36.8%) were the most affected locations. Less educated people reported, in general, higher prevalences. Pain described to be most annoying was related to musculoskeletal disease (26.2%) and migraines (16.5%). Pain was either very severe or unbearable in 33% of the sample, with women and older people reporting higher intensities. Personal and social activities were affected in 25.4% of cases and in 10.4% they became virtually impossible. Both the limitation of activity and the need for bed rest, which occurred in 19.6% of those who suffered pain, were more common amongst unemployed people, whereas 10.2% of workers had to take days off work due to pain, and 3.3% were fully incapacitated by it. In conclusion, the prevalence of pain was clearly higher among women, with an inverse relationship to age. Back pain and headaches were most prevalent and pain was rated as very severe to unbearable in one third of the patients. Pain-associated disabilities were a frequent finding. The present survey reports that pain is a substantial problem in the Catalonian population and generally reflects the characteristics of data previously reported in Anglo-saxon and Scandinavian countries. Copyright (C) 1999 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-16
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1999


  • Logistic models
  • Pain associated-disabilities
  • Pain epidemiology
  • Prevalence


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