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Prevalence of chronic pain with neuropathic characteristics: a randomized telephone survey among medical center patients in Kuwait

Authors Zghoul N, Ross EL, Edwards RR, Ahmad A, Jamison RN

Received 5 October 2016

Accepted for publication 14 November 2016

Published 4 April 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 679—687

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S123966

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Nadia Zghoul,1 Edgar L Ross,2 Robert R Edwards,2 Adel Ahmed,1,3 Robert N Jamison2

1Clinical Research Department, Dasman Diabetes Institute, Kuwait City, Kuwait; 2Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Management Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA; 3Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, Safat, Kuwait

Background: Chronic pain with neuropathic characteristics is considered to be an international health problem. However, surveys on the actual incidence of neuropathic pain have not been conducted in many Middle East countries, including Kuwait. The aim of this study was to examine the incidence of pain and medical comorbidities among a random sample of patients treated at a large medical center in Kuwait.
Methods: A list of 1,000 patients was created from the hospital medical record system, and a telephone survey was conducted on 759 patients who responded to the phone call, of which 67.2% (N=510) participated. Those who stated that they had pain every day for the past 3 months were invited to answer additional questions about their pain.
Results: Fifty-six percentage of those surveyed (N=283) reported experiencing chronic pain. Total average age was 49.2 years (SD=14.5), 45.5% were female, and 70.5% were Kuwaiti nationals. Most (74.3%) reported having diabetes and one-third (32.2%) showed evidence of neuropathic pain characteristics (mean DN4=2.8, SD=1.7). Other comorbid medical conditions were prevalent (48.4% hypertension, 30.4% arthritis, 22.6% heart disease, and 20.4% asthma) with an average of 2.3 (SD=1.3) medical problems per person. Those with pain tended to be older, female, unemployed, and overweight (p<0.01). The pain was mostly located in the lower extremities and those with neuropathic pain tended to report a higher intensity of pain and a higher frequency of seeking treatment for their pain in a clinic or hospital (p<0.05). Most relied on over-the-counter medications for their pain (38.1%). Very few were taking prescription medication for their pain.
Conclusion: This survey suggests that chronic pain is more prevalent in a medical population in Kuwait than previously anticipated. Health care services and behavioral interventions to improve lifestyle changes in Kuwait and other Arab countries are needed to positively impact pain and reduce other comorbidities.

Keywords: chronic pain, medical comorbidities, gender differences, Kuwait, weight, diabetes mellitus, health behavior

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