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The impact of chronic widespread pain on health status and long-term health predictors: a general population cohort study

Journal article
Authors C. Sylwander
I. Larsson
M. Andersson
Stefan Bergman
Published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Volume 21
Issue 1
ISSN 1471-2474
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Language en
Keywords Chronic widespread pain, Gender differences, Health predictors, Health, status, chronic musculoskeletal pain, quality-of-life, follow-up, american-college, public-health, prevalence, gender, women, epidemiology, fibromyalgia, Orthopedics, Rheumatology
Subject categories Rheumatology and Autoimmunity, Orthopedics


Background Chronic widespread pain (CWP) has a negative impact on health status, but results have varied regarding gender-related differences and reported health status. The aim was to study the impact of CWP on health status in women and men aged 35-54 years in a sample of the general population. The aim was further to investigate lifestyle-related predictors of better health status in those with CWP in a 12- and 21-year perspective. Method A general population cohort study including 975 participants aged 35-54 years, with a 12- and 21-year follow-up. CWP was measured with a pain mannequin, and the questionnaire included questions on lifestyles factors with SF-36 for measurement of health status. Differences in health status were analysed with independent samples t-test and health predictors with logistic regression analysis. Results The prevalence of CWP was higher in women at all time points, but health status was reduced in both women and men with CWP (p < 0.001) with no gender differences of clinical relevance. At the 12-year follow-up, a higher proportion of women than men had developed CWP (OR 2.04; CI 1.27-3.26), and at the 21-year follow-up, a higher proportion of men had recovered from CWP (OR 3.79; CI 1.00-14.33). In those reporting CWP at baseline, a better SF-36 health status (Physical Functioning, Vitality or Mental Health) at the 12-year follow-up was predicted by male gender, having personal support, being a former smoker, and having no sleeping problems. In the 21-year follow-up, predictors of better health were male gender, a weekly intake of alcohol, and having no sleeping problems. Conclusion Women and men with CWP have the same worsening of health status, but men recover from CWP to a greater extent in the long-term. Being male, having social support, being a former smoker, and having no sleeping problems were associated with better health status in those with CWP.

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