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Open Access Research article

Musculoskeletal pain in Arctic indigenous and non-indigenous adolescents, prevalence and associations with psychosocial factors: a population-based study

Christian Eckhoff12* and Siv Kvernmo12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Health, University Hospital North Norway, Tromsoe N-9038, Norway

2 Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Tromsoe; The Artic University of Norway, Tromsoe N-9037, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:617  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-617

Published: 18 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Pain is common in otherwise healthy adolescents. In recent years widespread musculoskeletal pain, in contrast to single site pain, and associating factors has been emphasized. Musculoskeletal pain has not been examined in Arctic indigenous adolescents. The aim of this study was to explore the prevalence of widespread musculoskeletal pain and its association with psychosocial factors, with emphasis on gender- and ethnic differences (Sami vs. non-Sami), and the influence of pain related functional impairment.

Methods

This is a cross-sectional study based on The Norwegian Arctic Adolescent Health Study; a school-based survey responded by 4,881 10th grade students (RR: 83%) in North Norway, in 2003–2005. 10% were indigenous Sami. Musculoskeletal pain was based on reported pain in the head, shoulder/neck, back and/or arm/knee/leg, measured by the number of pain sites. Linear multiple regression was used for the multivariable analyses.

Results

The prevalence of musculoskeletal pain was high, and significantly higher in females. In total, 22.4% reported 3–4 pain sites. We found a strong association between musculoskeletal pain sites and psychosocial problems, with a higher explained variance in those reporting pain related functional impairment and in females. There were no major differences in the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain in Sami and non-Sami, however the associating factors differed somewhat between the indigenous and non-indigenous group. The final multivariable model, for the total sample, explained 21.2% of the variance of musculoskeletal pain. Anxiety/depression symptoms was the dominant factor associated with musculoskeletal pain followed by negative life events and school-related stress.

Conclusions

Anxiety/depression, negative life events, and school-related stress were the most important factors associated with musculoskeletal pain, especially in those reporting pain related functional impairment. The most important sociocultural aspect is the finding that the indigenous Sami are not worse off.

Keywords:
Musculoskeletal pain; Adolescents; Psychosomatic; Somatization; Psychosocial; Emotional problems; Nordic; Sami; Indigenous