Predictors for chronic pain-related health care utilization: a cross-sectional nationwide study in Iceland

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Abstract

Background

Individuals with chronic pain are among the most frequent users of health care. Still, a significant percentage does not utilize health care for pain. A range of factors predict chronic pain-related health care utilization.

Design

A cross-sectional study aimed at identifying predictors of chronic pain-related health care utilization and comparing predictors between men and women.

Methods

A postal questionnaire measuring sociodemographic variables, pain characteristics, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and pain-related health care utilization, was sent to a sample of 4500 individuals randomly drawn from the national population of Iceland. The relationships between sociodemographic and pain-related factors and pain-related health care utilization among participants reporting chronic pain (≥3 months) were tested by using bivariate and multivariate statistical analysis.

Results

Among participants reporting chronic pain, 53.2% had consulted a health care provider for pain during the previous 6 months. Predictors for chronic pain-related health care utilization differed between men and women. Interference with life and pain pattern was the strongest predictors among women, as compared with interference with life and the physical components of HRQoL for men. Pain-related health care utilization was not linked to sociodemographic factors.

Conclusions

Pain-related variables are better predictors of chronic pain-related health care utilization than sociodemographic factors. Even though gender does not predict chronic pain-related health care utilization, there are gender differences in the relationships between pain-related variables and health care utilization. Men tend to postpone health care consultations for chronic pain longer than women.

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