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Association of body pain and chronic disease: evidence from a 7-year population-based study in China


Background Evidence is limited on the risk impact of body pain on future chronic disease. The present study aimed to investigate the association between body pain and chronic diseases.

Methods Data were analyzed using four waves of the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study with 17 708 individual respondents aged 45 years and older. The association between body pain and chronic disease was estimated in both a cross-sectional cohort (2011) and a longitudinal cohort (2011–2018). The key outcomes include the incidence of overall and any specific chronic diseases. The associations among different body pain sites and 10 independent chronic disease risks were also assessed.

Findings A total of 17 128 participants in 2011 were included in the cross-sectional cohort and 5611 participants were included in the 2011–2018 longitudinal cohort. Body pain showed an association with overall chronic disease in both the cross-sectional models (OR 2.71, 95% CI 2.47 to 2.98) and longitudinal model (risk ratio (RR) 1.21, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.35). Moreover, body pain was found to be associated with an increased risk of chronic respiratory disease (RR 1.43, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.92), heart disease (RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.89), kidney disease (RR 1.83, 95% CI 1.28 to 2.6), and digestive disease (RR 1.48, 95% CI 1.17 to 1.88).

Conclusion Body pain is associated with major disease and mortality. Future clinical research should be targeted to whether or not improved pain control can mitigate this population-level disease burden.

  • chronic pain
  • epidemiology
  • complex regional pain syndromes

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. The China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) data are freely available to researchers through the CHARLS official website at:

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