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Body mass in adolescents with chronic pain: observational study
  1. Jeremy Gauntlett-Gilbert1,2,
  2. Chandrika Bhat3,
  3. Jacqui Clinch1,3
  1. 1Bath Centre for Pain Services, Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, Bath, UK
  2. 2Faculty for Health and Applied Sciences, University of the West of England Bristol, Bristol, UK
  3. 3Department of Paediatric Rheumatology, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Bristol, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jeremy Gauntlett-Gilbert, Bath Centre for Pain Services, Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust, Bath BA1 3NG, UK; jeremy.gauntlett-gilbert{at}nhs.net

Abstract

Objective In a paediatric chronic pain population, to determine whether higher body mass was associated with poorer functioning, mood or treatment outcome.

Design Cross-sectional study with examination of treatment outcomes.

Setting Tertiary specialist adolescent pain rehabilitation unit.

Patients 355 adolescents with relatively severe non-malignant chronic pain.

Interventions Intensive 3-week pain rehabilitation programme.

Main outcome measures Objective physical measures (walk, sit-to-stand); self-reported functioning and mood

Results Average body mass index (BMI) in the sample was relatively high (24.2 (SD 5.6)) with 20.5% being classified as obese. However, there were no relationships between body mass and objective physical measures, physical or social functioning, depression or anxiety (all p>0.05). There was a small relationship between higher body mass and greater pain-related fear (r=0.17, p<0.01). Treatment improved all variables (p<0.001) apart from pain intensity. There were no relationships between higher body mass and poorer treatment outcome; in fact, patients with higher BMI showed slightly greater decreases in depression (r=0.12, p<0.05) and pain-specific anxiety (r=0.18, p<0.01) during treatment.

Conclusions Higher body mass does not worsen functioning, mood or treatment response in adolescents with disabling chronic pain. Childhood obesity and chronic pain are both stigmatised conditions; clinicians should avoid implying that high body mass alone is a causal factor in the struggles of a young person with chronic pain.

  • chronic pain
  • Adolescent Health
  • body mass
  • Obesity
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Footnotes

  • Twitter @DrJeremyGG

  • Contributors JG-G and JC had the idea and initiated the research. JG-G and CB analysed the data. JG-G and JC wrote the paper. All authors revised the final manuscript and are accountable for the work.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available on reasonable request.

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