Pain impacts on quality of life and interferes with treatment in adults with cystic fibrosis

Physiotherapy Research International, 05/07/2012

Pain is common in adults with cystic fibrosis (CF), irrespective of clinical status, and may interfere with important physiotherapy treatments. Although pain intensity is generally mild, those with a negative emotional response to pain have significantly impaired health–related quality of life (HRQOL).


  • This study was an observational study of adults with CF.
  • Participants completed three questionnaires, the Brief Pain Inventory, Pain Catastrophizing Scale and the CF–Quality of Life questionnaire, when clinically stable and during an acute exacerbation.


  • A total of 73 participants were included during a period of clinical stability, with 33 repeating the measurements during an acute illness, with a mean (SD) age of 29 (9) years and forced expiratory volume (FEV1) of 60.5 (24.9)% predicted.
  • Mild pain was reported by 89% of stable participants and 79% of those with exacerbations. Severity of lung disease did not affect prevalence or intensity of pain.
  • Pain interfered with airway clearance therapy during exacerbations (p<0.012) and exercise regimens when participants were clinically stable (p<0.002) and was related to a poorer physical function, regardless of clinical status (p<0.05).
  • Although pain intensity was associated with reduced HRQOL (p<0.001), only FEV1 and the degree of pain catastrophizing were independent predictors of poorer HRQOL.

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