A major problem with estimating the impact of chronic generalized pain is that the term remains undefined. It appears to encompass several distinct clinical entities, including rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, which can exist alone or together in a given individual. Nonetheless, chronic generalized pain appears to have a sizable impact on both the individual and society. Although little is known about causal relationships, demographic risk factors for chronic generalized pain are female sex, age in the forties and fifties, lower income, lower education, and being divorced or separated. Chronic generalized pain affects the individual in several ways, including physical and psychological distress, losses of function, quality of life, employment and income, and prolonged litigation for many. Its impact on society includes increased utilization of health care resources, loss of work productivity, disability and insurance costs, costs of litigation and social policy. Future research into the impact of chronic generalized pain must begin by defining this term in a way that is both valid in construct and convenient to use. Research is also warranted to develop and validate diagnostic tools that may better distinguish various subsets of chronic generalized pain, both to better understand the pathological processes involved and to allow for estimates of the relative contribution of each subset to societal costs.
Baillieres Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol 1999 Sep;13(3):379-89
Department of Medicine, London Health Sciences Center, Ontario, Canada.
PMID: 10562368, UI: 20023790