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Original article

Vol. 152 No. 2324 (2022)

Estimating the prevalence of paediatric chronic pain in Switzerland: an online survey among paediatricians

  • Helen Koechlin
  • Cosima Locher
  • Maria Carlander
  • Joe Kossowsky
  • Andreas Woerner
  • Julia Dratva
Cite this as:
Swiss Med Wkly. 2022;152:w30194


BACKGROUND: Chronic pain is a frequent complaint in children and adolescents, with great international variation in prevalence. Paediatricians are usually the first-line contact for pain problems in children and might refer patients to other specialists or pain clinics where available. Prevalence estimates of paediatric chronic pain and paediatricians’ care experiences in Switzerland are currently lacking.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of paediatric chronic pain in Swiss paediatrician practices and paediatricians’ professional experience and confidence with, and care provision for patients with paediatric chronic pain.

METHODS: Data were collected in 2019 using a cross-sectional online questionnaire among Swiss paediatricians. Ordinary least square regression analyses and Monte Carlo simulations were applied to estimate the prevalence rate of paediatric chronic pain. Explorative multivariate logistic regression analyses investigated whether sociodemographic and professional factors were associated with paediatricians’ confidence in treating and experience with paediatric chronic pain.

RESULTS: We included 337 paediatricians in our anonymised analyses. The prevalence rate of paediatric chronic pain in our sample was estimated to be between 2.54% and 3.89%. Twenty percent of paediatricians reported feeling confident in treating paediatric chronic pain, 77.2% had referred patients with paediatric chronic pain to another specialist and more than half had at least some experience with paediatric chronic pain. Experience and confidence with treating paediatric chronic pain were associated with male gender.

CONCLUSION: Our study is the first to estimate the prevalence of paediatric chronic pain by means of a sample of Swiss paediatricians. The prevalence rate was considerably lower than other estimates. Given the lack of training and confidence with treating paediatric chronic pain reported by paediatricians, absence of awareness and resulting under-diagnosis is possible.


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