The aim of this study was to (1) investigate the relation of socio-economic status (SES), measured as education, occupation, and income, with the 12-month prevalence of severe pain and with pain-related sickness absence, and (2) analyse to what extent sociodemographic and medical factors influence these associations.
The study population comprised 8084 subjects aged between 15 and 65 years from the Austrian Health Interview Survey in 2006/07. Associations of SES with the 1‑year prevalence of severe pain and sickness absence due to pain in those with severe pain was assessed with logistic regression analysis and adjusted for socio-demographic and chronic medical conditions.
The 1‑year prevalence of severe pain was 33.7%. Among those with severe pain, 32.9% were on sickness absence due to pain. SES was significantly associated with the prevalence of severe pain and even more strongly with sickness absence due to pain. Stepwise adjustment for socio-demographics and medical factors had only marginal effects on these associations. Multivariate odds ratios (ORs) for severe pain were 1.14; 1.18 and 1.32 for low income, blue-collar workers, and low education, respectively. Related ORs for sickness absence due to pain were 1.52; 1.14 and 2.05.
There was an association between SES, particularly measured as educational level, and the prevalence of severe pain, which was even stronger with sickness absence due to pain.