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Korean J Pain. 2017 Jan;30(1):34-43. English. Original Article.
Wee LE , Sin D , Cher WQ , Li ZC , Tsang T , Shibli S , Koh G .
Singhealth Internal Medicine, Singapore General Hospital, Singapore.
Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, National University Health System, Singapore.
National Psychiatry Residency Program, National Healthcare Group, Singapore.
Department of Anaesthesia, Ng Teng Fong General Hospital, JurongHealth, Singapore.
Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, National University Health System, Singapore.

BACKGROUND: We sought to determine the association between chronic pain and participating in routine health screening in a low socioeconomic-status (SES) rental-flat community in Singapore. In Singapore, ≥ 85% own homes; public rental flats are reserved for those with low-income. METHODS: Chronic pain was defined as pain ≥ 3 months. From 2009−2014, residents aged 40−60 years in five public rental-flat enclaves were surveyed for chronic pain; participation in health screening was also measured. We compared them to residents staying in adjacent owner-occupied public housing. We also conducted a qualitative study to better understand the relationship between chronic pain and health screening participation amongst residents in these low-SES enclaves. RESULTS: In the rental-flat population, chronic pain was associated with higher participation in screening for diabetes (aOR = 2.11, CI = 1.36−3.27, P < 0.001), dyslipidemia (aOR = 2.06, CI = 1.25−3.39, P = 0.005), colorectal cancer (aOR = 2.28, CI = 1.18−4.40, P = 0.014), cervical cancer (aOR = 2.65, CI = 1.34−5.23, P = 0.005) and breast cancer (aOR = 3.52, CI = 1.94−6.41, P < 0.001); this association was not present in the owner-occupied population. Three main themes emerged from our qualitative analysis of the link between chronic pain and screening participation: pain as an association of “major illness”; screening as a search for answers to pain; and labelling pain as an end in itself. CONCLUSIONS: Chronic pain was associated with higher cardiovascular and cancer screening participation in the low-SES population. In low-SES populations with limited access to pain management services, chronic pain issues may surface during routine health screening.

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