Despite increasing attention to the epidemiology of pain, relatively little is known about the association between pain and health in children. In particular, no studies have examined this relationship in the general population of children in Canada.
To assess the association between self-reported pain experiences and health in school children in southeastern Ontario. Health measures included perceived health status, psychological complaints and satisfaction with school.
A total of 495 nine- to 13-year-old school children completed the Pain Experience Interview -- Short Form and health-related questions from the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children questionnaire.
Of the 495 children in the present study, 8% rated their health as 'fair' to 'poor', 56% reported experiencing at least one of four psychological symptoms more than once a week and 24% said they disliked school. The strongest associations existed between headaches and poor self-rated health (OR=10.1; 95% CI 1.3 to 78.3), recurrent pain and psychological outcomes (OR=3.6; 95% CI 2.0 to 6.3), and recurrent pain and disliking school (OR=3.6; 95% CI 1.9 to 6.7).
These findings indicate that common childhood pains are associated with childhood health. Further studies are needed to assess the causal relationship between pain and health in children, to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of the personal and economic impact of childhood pain, and to monitor changes in the lives of children living with chronic pain.