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
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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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