Cumulative Childhood Adversity as a Risk Factor for Common Chronic Pain Conditions in Young Adults. | Academic Article individual record

OBJECTIVE: Multiple and specific types of childhood adverse events are risk factors for chronic pain conditions. Although both can covary, no study has evaluated one aspect while controlling for the other. Therefore, the current study examined whether more adverse events would be a risk factor for common chronic pain conditions and pain medication use in young adults after controlling for different adversity types such as physical, emotional, and sexual traumatic events or vice versa. METHODS: This cross-sectional study recruited 3,073 undergraduates (72% female, mean age = 18.8 years, SD = 1.4 years) who completed the survey for current health status and early life traumatic events. RESULTS: More adverse events were associated with a 1.2-1.3-fold increase in the odds of any chronic pain, chronic back pain, headache, and dysmenorrhea with adjusting for adversity types, but they were not associated with the risk of comorbid pain conditions and use of pain medications. In contrast, specific adversity types were unrelated to chronic pain conditions when controlling for the number of adverse events. CONCLUSIONS: Cumulative childhood adverse events may be a more relevant risk factor for chronic pain conditions than the experience of a specific type of adverse event. Clinicians and researchers need to evaluate cumulative childhood adversity when assessing its link to chronic pain.

author list (cited authors)
You, D. S., Albu, S., Lisenbardt, H., & Meagher, M. W.
publication date
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  • Headache
  • Odd Ratio
  • Childhood Adversity
  • Low Back Pain
  • Dysmenorrhea