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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
BØ has made substantial contributions to conception and design, to acquisition and analysis and interpretation of data, and to drafting and revising the manuscript. HS participated in design and in revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content. MH participated in design and in coordination of the writing process, in the sequence alignment, and in revising the manuscript critically. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Long-term musculoskeletal pain and negative stress are health risks with adverse long-term health effects, and these health risks seem to increase among young people. The mechanisms behind this are unclear. There is a need for a better understanding of perceived stress and musculoskeletal pain among adolescents, in order to improve health promotion and treatment approaches in this group.
Objectives were to evaluate the current prevalence of perceived stress and musculoskeletal pain in 15 and 16 year olds, to explore stress-pain associations and the probability that perceived stress (PSQ) was related to the reporting of pain and variations in pain, and to investigate possible differences in stress between different types of musculoskeletal pain in the adolescents. A cross-sectional study was conducted. Elementary schools participated. The outcomes were stress (Perceived stress questionnaire; PSQ) and musculoskeletal pain (pain/no pain, pain sites, pain duration and pain intensity (Visual analogue scale; VAS).
Fifty-one point two percent (N = 422) reported pain, of which 70.8 % reported long-term pain. Some more girls (57.9 %) reported pain. 22.0 % of the study population reported moderate to severe stress (PSQ ≥ 0.45), of which 79.6 % were bothered by pain (Pearson Chi-square 38.47, p ≤ .001). All stress and pain variables were significantly associated (p < .01). The strongest association appeared between pain intensity (VAS) and stress (PSQ) (r = 0.40). Perceived stress (PSQ) was associated with the reporting of pain among the adolescents (Odds Ratio [OR] 1.68) and could explain some of the variation in pain intensity (VAS; β = 0.15, p < .001) and number of pain sites (β = 0.14, p < .01), according to the regression analyses. There were no mean differences in stress (PSQ) between different types of musculoskeletal pain.
There was high prevalence of musculoskeletal pain, long-term pain and moderate to severe stress (PSQ ≥ 0.45) in this study sample. Perceived stress (PSQ) was related to the reporting of musculoskeletal pain among the adolescents and could explain some of the variation in pain intensity (VAS) and number of pain sites. There were no differences in stress levels (PSQ) between different types of musculoskeletal pain in the adolescents.