Chronic pain prevalence and associated factors in adolescents with and without physical disabilities


de la Vega, Rocío; Groenewald, Cornelius; Bromberg, Maggie H.; Beals-Erickson, Sarah E.; & Palermo, Tonya M. (2018). Chronic pain prevalence and associated factors in adolescents with and without physical disabilities. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology.


AIM: Adolescents with physical disabilities may have co-occurring chronic pain, but the prevalence and specific associated factors are unknown. The aims of this study were to determine (1) the prevalence of chronic pain in adolescents with physical disabilities and (2) whether known correlates of chronic pain in the general population are also present in young people both with physical disability and with chronic pain relative to peers. METHOD: We conducted a secondary analysis of cross-sectional nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Multivariate linear regression analysis was used to identify demographic and psychosocial factors associated with chronic pain. RESULTS: A total of 989 (4.3%) adolescents reported physical disabilities. They had a significantly higher rate of pain (27.2%) compared with able-bodied peers (15.6%, chi(2) =86.3550, p<0.001). There was no significant interaction between physical disability status and chronic pain in relation to depressive symptoms, anxiety, or insomnia. INTERPRETATION: Adolescents with physical disabilities experience chronic pain at a significantly higher rate than able-bodied peers, but the comorbidity of physical disability and chronic pain is not related to depression, anxiety, or insomnia. Evaluation of chronic pain and tailored pain interventions need to be developed for this population. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: Chronic pain and its correlates are important problems for adolescents with physical disabilities. These adolescents present with higher rates of chronic pain than other young people. Chronic pain is associated with increased levels of depressive symptoms, anxiety, and insomnia regardless of disability status.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology


de la Vega, Rocío
Groenewald, Cornelius
Bromberg, Maggie H.
Beals-Erickson, Sarah E.
Palermo, Tonya M.

Year Published



February 22, 2018



Reference ID