Clinical Edge

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Trends in Pain Prevalence in US Adults

J Pain; ePub 2019 Jan 15; Nahin, et al

Pain prevalence among US adults increased 25% over the past 2 decades, with strong opioid use remaining high, a new study found. Researchers used data from the nationally representative Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to determine 18-year trends in the overall rates of non-cancer pain prevalence and pain-related interference, as well as in healthcare use attributable directly to pain management. They found:

  • Pain prevalence among US adults increased by 25% since 1997‒1998.
  • ~68 million adults had pain that interfered with work by 2013‒2014.
  • Use of strong, but not weak, opioids for pain management increased over time, especially in those with severe pain-related interference.
  • Visits to healthcare providers for pain management decreased over time.


Nahin RL, Sayer B, Stussman BJ, Feinberg TM. 18-year trends in the prevalence of, and health care use for, non-cancer pain in the United States: Data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. [Published online ahead of print January 15, 2019]. J Pain. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.2019.01.003.

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