Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Lifetime socioeconomic circumstances and chronic pain in later adulthood: Findings from a British birth cohort study

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel CooperORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. Objectives To investigate associations between a range of different indicators of socioeconomic position (SEP: occupational class, education, household overcrowding and tenure, and experience of financial hardship) across life and chronic widespread and regional pain (CWP and CRP) at age 68. Design Prospective birth cohort; the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development. Setting England, Scotland and Wales. Participants Up to 2378 men and women who have been followed-up since birth in 1946 to age 68. Primary outcome measures On the basis of their self-report of pain at age 68, participants were classified as: CWP (American College of Rheumatology criteria), CRP (pain of at least 3 months' duration but that does not meet the definition of CWP), other pain (<3 months in duration) or no pain. Results At age 68, the prevalence of CWP was 13.3% and 7.8% in women and men, respectively, and that of CRP was 32.3% and 28.7% in women and men, respectively. There was no clear evidence that indicators of SEP in childhood or later adulthood were associated with pain. Having experienced (vs not) financial hardship and being a tenant (vs owner-occupier) in earlier adulthood were both associated with an increased risk of CWP; for example, moderate hardship adjusted relative risk ratio (RRR adj) 2.32 (95% CI: 1.19 to 4.52) and most hardship RRR adj 4.44 (95% CI: 2.02 to 9.77). Accumulation of financial hardship across earlier and later adulthood was also associated with an increased risk of CWP. Conclusions Consideration of socioeconomic factors in earlier adulthood may be important when identifying targets for intervention to prevent CWP in later life.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Jay MA, Bendayan R, Cooper R, Muthuri SG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2019

Volume: 9

Issue: 3

Online publication date: 07/03/2019

Acceptance date: 17/12/2018

Date deposited: 17/01/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024250

PubMed id: 30850405


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust