Recent research estimates that the economic cost of moderate to severe chronic pain in adolescents totals out to $19.5 billion a year in the US. The research appears in The Journal of Pain, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Pain Society.

A news release appearing on the American Pain Society website states that chronic pain impacts about 5% of children and adolescents. During the study, researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Research Institute aimed to form a better understanding of the economic costs to society resulting from adolescent chronic pain. The release adds that study participants encompassed 149 adolescents treated at interdisciplinary pain clinics.

The parents of study subjects, the release says, completed validated measures documenting family economic attributes and reports on family health services use and productivity losses for 12 months resulting from a child’s chronic pain.

The study’s results suggest that the mean annual cost linked to chronic pain per participants was $11,787 and median cost was $6,770. Additionally, the costs tended to be concentrated in a small subset of the children, according to the results. The release states that the results also indicate that the top 5% of patients incurring the highest costs accounted for 30% of the total costs. Researchers note that the lower 75% of participants accounted for 34% of the costs. According to the release, total costs for adolescents with moderate to severe chronic pain were extrapolated to $19.5 billion a year in the US.

In the release, researchers also call for further research to investigate the efficacy of a full range of less intensive outpatient interdisciplinary pain management interventions for adolescents with chronic pain, as well as Internet and mobile-based therapies.

Source: American Pain Society