Newswise — CHICAGO, Oct. 9, 2014 – Research in The Journal of Pain estimated that the economic cost of moderate to severe chronic pain in adolescents is $19.5 billion a year. The Journal of Pain is the peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society, www.americanpainsociety.org.

Chronic pain affects about 5 percent of children and adolescents. They seek more medical care, use more medication, miss more school, and report worse quality of life than their peers without pain. Before this paper was published, little was known about the costs of chronic pain in childhood and adolescence. Researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, therefore, sought to better understand the economic costs to society due to adolescent chronic pain. Study participants were 149 adolescents treated at interdisciplinary pain clinics.

Parents of study subjects completed validated measures of family economic attributes and reports on family health services use and productivity losses for 12 months due to a child’s chronic pain.

Results showed that the mean annual cost associated with chronic pain per participant was $11,787 and median cost was $6,770. Further, the costs tended to be concentrated in a small subset of the children. The top five percent of patients incurring the highest costs accounted for 30 percent of the total costs. The lower 75 percent of participants accounted for just 34 percent of the costs. Total costs for adolescents with moderate to severe chronic pain were extrapolated to $19.5 billion a year in the United States.

The authors concluded that future research should investigate the efficacy of a full range of less intensive outpatient interdisciplinary pain management interventions for adolescents with chronic pain, as well as Internet and mobile-based therapies.

About the American Pain Society Based in Chicago, the American Pain Society (APS) is a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering. APS is the professional home for investigators involved in all aspects of pain research including basic, translational, clinical and health services research to obtain the support and inspiration they need to flourish professionally. APS strongly advocates expansion of high quality pain research to help advance science to achieve effective and responsible pain relief. For more information on APS, visit www.americanpainsociety.org.

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The Journal of Pain