May 19, 2023

CDC Publishes Chronic Pain Report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a new report on chronic pain among adults from 2019-2021, based on data from the 2019–2021 the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) to provide updated estimates of the prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain among adults in the United States and within population groups defined by demographic, geographic, socioeconomic, and health status characteristics.

The CDC estimates that 21% of adults in the U.S. – or 51.6 million people – experienced chronic pain in 2021. Approximately 7% of adults – or 17.1 million people – experienced high-impact chronic pain, where pain results in substantial restriction to daily activities, with higher prevalence among certain demographics.

New findings from this analysis include that non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) adults, adults identifying as bisexual, and adults who are divorced or separated are among the populations experiencing a higher prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain.

This report also highlighted important disparities in the prevalence of chronic pain among certain population groups. Consistent with previous studies, the prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain were higher among older adults, females, adults currently unemployed but who worked previously, veterans, adults living in poverty, those residing in nonmetropolitan areas, and those with public health insurance.

The prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain was also higher among adults with a disability, adults in poor health, and adults with a history of certain chronic medical conditions.

The CDC advises that clinicians, practices, health systems, and payers should vigilantly attend to health inequities and ensure access to appropriate, affordable, diversified, coordinated, and effective pain management care for all persons.

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