Prevalence of chronic pain with or without neuropathic characteristics in France using the capture–recapture method: a population-based study

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Capture–recapture methods are increasingly used to determine the prevalence of numerous chronic conditions but have never been used in the context of chronic pain (CP). This study sought to provide up-to-date estimates of the prevalence of people experiencing CP ± neuropathic characteristics in France using the capture–recapture method. In 2013 to 2015, 3 data sources were used: the French prescription drug database (D-list), the national hospital discharge database (H-list), and the French pain center database (P-list). Patients aged 18 years and older treated with analgesic drugs for ≥6 months (D-list) or with a diagnosis of CP ± neuropathic characteristics (H- and P-lists) were included. Two successive capture–recapture analyses were conducted, with log-linear regression for each analysis performed. A total of 63,557 and 9852 distinct cases of CP and chronic neuropathic pain were captured, respectively. The estimated prevalence of CP and chronic neuropathic pain in the adults ranged from 27.2% (95% confidence interval: 26.1-28.4) to 32.7% (26.0-43.3) and from 5.55% (2.89-19.0) to 7.30% (6.40-8.41), respectively. Most patients were female, median ages were 67 (55-80) and 63 (51-76) years for chronic and neuropathic pain, respectively. The analgesic drugs most frequently used in CP patients were paracetamol (62.1%), weak opioids (39.7%), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (32.7%), whereas in neuropathic pain patients, anticonvulsants (45.3%), tricyclic antidepressants (18.1%), and serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (13.3%) were more frequently used. This first electronic health record–based study on CP using the capture–recapture method revealed a high prevalence of CP, with a significant proportion of neuropathic pain patients.

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