Introduction: Chronic pain in late adolescence and young adults is understudied and poorly characterized. Objectives: We sought to characterize key variables that may impact pain interference in late adolescents and young adults with chronic pain, including prescription opioid use, marijuana use, psychological symptoms, and obesity. Methods: Retrospective, cross-sectional medical chart review for patients aged 17 to 23 years (N = 283; 61% Females) seeking care at a tertiary care pain clinic. Data on pain characteristics, health behaviors, and mental health distress were examined, in addition to self-reported pain intensity and interference. Results: Overlapping pain conditions were common in this young adult sample (mean ≥ 2 pain conditions). Back pain was the most commonly cited pain condition, and the majority of pain was of unknown etiology. Results revealed high rates for current opioid prescription, overweight or obese status, and mental health problems. Those using prescription opioids were more likely to endorse tobacco use and had greater pain interference. Importantly, the presence of mental health distress and opioid use were predictive of higher levels of pain-related interference. Conclusion: Treatment-seeking adolescents and young adults with chronic pain evidence complex care needs that include pain and mental comorbidities, as well as risky health behaviors. Pain and mental health distress were associated with poorer physical health, opioid prescription and marijuana use, and pain-related interference. Findings underscore the need for additional research on pain, treatment patterns, and health behaviors and their impact on developmental trajectories, as well as the need to develop and apply effective early interventions in this at-risk population.
- Chronic pain
- Prescription opioids
- Young adults
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine