The purpose of this study is to determine the association between presence of chronic pain and school functioning among school aged children (6-17▒y) using the most recent United States national data.
Secondary data analyses of the 2016-2017 National Survey of Children’s Health. Parents (n=48,254) reported on whether their child had chronic pain over the past 12 months. Parents also reported on school functioning including (1) engagement with school, (2) number of school days missed, (3) problems at school, (4) repeating a grade, and (5) diagnosis of a learning disability. Children with chronic pain were compared to children without chronic pain using multivariate logistic regression models. We also stratified analysis according to age and sex.
In multivariate analyses, children with pain were more likely to have low school engagement (adjusted odds ratio (OR): 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.0-1.9), be chronically absent (OR: 4.2, 95%CI: 3.0-5.8), have school related problems (OR: 1.9, 95%CI: 1.5-2.3), repeat a grade (OR: 1.4, 95%CI: 1.0-2.0), and be diagnosed with a learning disability (OR: 1.6, 95%CI: 1.1-2.5). In stratified analyses, associations between chronic pain and school measures were strongest among adolescents (15-17▒y of age) and males.
This study extends evidence linking chronic pain status to poorer school functioning in a large, national sample. Poor school functioning is a pressing public concern affecting children with chronic pain. Health care providers, educators, policy makers, and families should work together to ensure that needs are met for this vulnerable population.