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Chronic pain and cost: an epidemiological study in the communities of Sunsari district of Nepal.
Posted On: 21-Mar-2014

Nepal Med Coll J. 2007 Mar;9(1):6-11.

Bhattarai B1, Pokhrel PK, Tripathi M, Rahman TR, Baral DD, Pande R, Bhattachaya A. Author information


The purpose of the study was to find out the prevalence of chronic pain in economically active population and associated economic loss. This cross-sectional observational study was carried out in 3 VDCs of Sunsari District involving 1730 individuals of 15-64 years age group selected by multistage random sampling. Demographic data, absence or presence of pain, site, severity, duration and relieving measures, approximate expenditure in treating pain and number of days lost due to pain were noted using a preformed questionnaire. Out of 1730 individuals interviewed, 882 (50.1%) had pain of which 93.7% had chronic pain (pain lasting for > 3 months). Backache (25.8%), headache (20.1%) and abdominal pain due to acid peptic disease (12.5%) were the most prevalent painful conditions. About 14.0% of individuals had severe grade pain. Female sex, age e"30 years, lack of formal schooling, smoking habit and dependent status were associated with higher prevalence of pain. Almost 19.0% of individuals with pain were unable to go to work the previous day. Man-days loss due to pain was 1.37 days/month/person in the study population. In terms of cost, pain related losses were Nepalese Rupees (NRs) 1671.89/person/year as against the per capita GDP of NRs 98,640.00 (US$ 1370.0). The money incurred by individuals for therapy on pain was NRs 760.15/person/year. In conclusion, probably first time, we are reporting the prevalence of chronic pain in our communities with people having to spend significant portion of their scarce income (and country's GDP) to treat pain, thus, highlighting it as a public health problem.

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