Objectives To examine a possible association of parental chronic pain with chronic pain in the adolescent and young adult and to explore whether a relationship could be explained by socioeconomic and psychosocial factors or may be affected by differences in family structure.
Design Unselected, population-based, cross-sectional study.
Setting Nord-Trøndelag County, Norway.
Participants All inhabitants of Nord-Trøndelag County who were 13 years or older were invited to enroll in the study. In total, 8200 of 10 485 invitees (78.2%) participated in the investigation. Among 7913 participants in the target age group (age range, 13-18 years), 7373 (93.2%) completed the pain questions. The final study population consisted of 5370 adolescents or young adults for whom one or both parents participated in the adult survey.
Main Outcome Measures The primary outcome measure was chronic nonspecific pain in adolescents and young adults, defined as pain in at least 1 location, unrelated to any known disease or injury, experienced at least once a week during the past 3 months. Chronic multisite pain was defined as chronic pain in at least 3 locations.
Results Maternal chronic pain was associated with chronic nonspecific pain and chronic multisite pain in adolescents and young adults (odds ratio, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.3-1.8). Paternal chronic pain was associated with increased odds of pain in adolescents and young adults. The odds of chronic nonspecific pain and chronic multisite pain in adolescents and young adults increased when both parents reported pain. Adjustments for socioeconomic and psychosocial factors did not change the results, although differences in family structure did. Among offspring living primarily with their mothers, clear associations were observed between maternal pain and pain in adolescents and young adults, but no association was found with paternal pain.
Conclusions Parental chronic pain is associated with chronic nonspecific pain and especially with chronic multisite pain in adolescents and young adults. Family structure influences the relationship, indicating that family pain models and shared environmental factors are important in the origin of chronic pain.