Chronic Pain in a Biracial Cohort of Young Women

Octavia Plesh*, Stuart A. Gansky, Donald A. Curtis
University of California, San Francisco, 707 Parnassus Ave, Box # 0758, San Francisco, CA 94143-0758,USA.

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© 2012 Plesh et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the University of California, San Francisco, 707 Parnassus Ave, Box # 0758, San Francisco, CA 94143-0758, USA; Tel: 1-415-476-5881; Fax: 1-415-476-0858; E-mail:


This is a longitudinal study of a large US biracial community cohort of 732 young women – 50% African-American and 50% Caucasian – specifically investigating incidence, remission, and progression of, as well as factors associated with common chronic pains (back, head, face, chest and abdomen). The results show back, head and abdominal pains were the most common, severe and persistent pains. Facial pain, although less common and severe, was the only pain presenting significant racial differences with Caucasians having higher prevalence, incidence and persistence; incidence per 1000 person-years was 58 for Caucasians and 18 for African-Americans while remission per 1000 personyears was 107 for Caucasians and 247 for African-Americans (p<0.05). Risk factors associated with incidence (I) differed from those associated with persistence(P), perhaps due to the young age and shorter pain duration in this population. Face pain incidence, but not persistence for example, was associated with student status, fatigue, perceived stress and general health. Depression does not seem to be associated with any of these pains. However, increased number of existing pain sites was related to subsequent increase chance of developing new pain (I) or maintaining the existing pain (P). Perspective: This study offers insight into risk factors associated with incidence and progression of chronic pains in young women. We showed certain types of pain such as headaches and back pain present higher severity and persistence, and predicted the incidence of other chronic pains. The clinical implications of these findings relate to the needs for more aggressive intervention in young women developing these types of pain when addressing women’s health problems.

Keywords: Incidence, Progression, Race/Ethnicity, Chronic Pain, Risk Factors.