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Chronic Pain Associated with Poverty and Less Education

Feb 09, 2017 2:31 pm

Poorer and less-educated older Americans are more likely to suffer from chronic pain than those with greater wealth and more education, but the disparity between the two groups is much greater than previously thought, according to new research.

An analysis of national data from nearly 20,000 persons in the Health and Retirement Study set out to examine pain disparities among older American adults. (Citation source:

They found high prevalence of chronic pain (27.3%) and that there were large disparities in pain accoriding subsets defined by sex, education, and wealth.

Such patients not only have more pain but more severe pain as well.  

People who didn't finish high school are 370 percent more likely to experience severe chronic pain than those with graduate degrees.

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine reported that chronic pain affects more people and costs the economy more money than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. 

Other analyses showed that race was not a determinant for those with chronic or severe pain.

Lastly, pain levels may also be predictive of subsequent death.


The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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