Demographic Characteristics, Psychosocial Measures, and Pain in a Sample of Patients with Persistent Pain Referred to a New Zealand Tertiary Pain Medicine Center

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Little is known on epidemiology of chronic pain in New Zealand. Its management has been based on data and models in North American/European studies. This project evaluated demographic and psychosocial correlates of pain severity, duration, and disability (PSDD) in chronic pain patients for assessment at a New Zealand tertiary care Pain Medicine Center.

Design and Setting.

This study was a retrospective, cross-sectional analysis on existing clinical assessment data (audit) collected over an 18-month period.


Pre-admission data were collected on a consecutive series of 874 patients presenting for assessment.

Assessment Tools.

This included demographic (gender, educational attainment, ethnicity) and psychosocial data. Pain severity was measured by numerical rating scale and present pain intensity using McGill Pain Questionnaire. Duration was measured in months. Disability was measured by using Pain Disability Index and depression using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale. Distress was measured using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale and self-efficacy using the Pain Self-Efficacy Questionnaire. Catastrophizing was measured by Coping Strategies Questionnaire and pain acceptance by the Pain Solutions Questionnaire.


No difference was found in mean values of all PSDD between genders and between ethnicities. Years of education did not form an important correlate of PSDD. Catastrophizers experienced more pain and were more disabled. Patients with severe pain experienced greater distress. Depressed patients were more disabled. Patients presenting with a high degree of self-efficacy were likely to have lower pain levels and to be less disabled. Level of acceptance of pain was positively associated with reported duration of pain and negatively associated with total disability.


Through this study, more is now known about effects of chronic pain on New Zealanders. The use of validated psychometric testing enables proper assessment and informs clinical management for chronic pain patients.

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