A biopsychosocial examination of chronic back pain, limitations on usual activities, and treatment in Brazil, 2019
Chronic back pain is prevalent in Brazil, leading to enormous healthcare costs and social burdens. It also disproportionately affects low-income and less-healthy people.
Objectives This study examines the associations of chronic back pain with biological, psychological, and social factors; how it limits usual activities; and how chronic back pain influences the use of treatment services.
Methods Using Brazil’s National Health Survey (PNS-2019), multivariate logistic regressions were conducted to examine how biological, psychological, and social factors correlate with chronic back pain, limitations on usual activities, and pain treatment.
Results PNS-2019 data showed that 23.4% (95% CI 22.8-24.0) of Brazilian adults aged over 20 reported back pain. A higher prevalence of chronic back pain was associated with biological factors (older age, being female, overweight or obese, current smoking, and having more chronic conditions), lower social conditions (low education, low per capita household income, non-married, and living in rural areas), and poor psychological health (more depressive symptoms). Chronic back pain is more likely to limit usual activities among those with low social conditions (lower education, lower income), poor physical and behavioral health (obese, current smokers, and those with a greater number of chronic conditions), and worse psychological health (more depressive symptoms). However, married people and those who do not consume alcohol were also more likely to report limited activities. Among those with back pain, 68% received at least one form of treatment. Those with intense limitations on their usual activities were 2.2 times as likely to report treatment. People with higher social conditions (higher income, college education, and private health insurance) were more likely to receive treatment.
Conclusion The results show significant biological, psychological, and social disparities in the prevalence of chronic back pain in Brazil. The findings point to the need for tailored policies and prevention programs with attention to vulnerable groups. Even though Brazil has universal health care, those with better socioeconomic conditions are more likely to receive treatment.
Keywords: back pain, health status disparities, biopsychosocial, Brazil.