The impact and burden of chronic pain in the workplace: a qualitative systematic review

Pain Practice, 05/04/2012

The body of evidence identified from the systematic review indicates that chronic pain (CP) has a substantial negative impact on work–related outcomes, supporting the importance of interventions to reduce the burden of CP. Well–designed prospective studies specifically assessing the direct consequences of CP on employment are needed to confirm these findings.


  • A systematic review following PRISMA statement guidelines was conducted to identify studies reporting work–related outcomes for people with CP.
  • EMBASE, MEDLINE, EconLit, and Cochrane Library databases were searched up to 18th August 2010.


  • Authors identified 91 observational studies.
  • Few were specifically designed to investigate the association between CP, productivity, and employment.
  • The focus for this review was studies clearly reporting outcomes relating to the burden of CP on employment status (n = 37), sickness absence (absenteeism, n = 47), and loss of productivity because of reduced ability at work (presenteeism, n = 8).

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