Some other survey findings were predictable. People were more likely to feel pain while alone, and those with pain spent almost 25 percent of their time watching television, compared to 16 percent for those experiencing less discomfort.
And people felt more pain as they grew older, with the average pain rating increasing with the years. But there was a surprising temporary plateau between the ages of 45 and 75, after which pain increased, the study found.
The fact that the pain imbalance persists after the working years indicates that "more attention should be paid to economics and health-care services," said Juha H.O. Turunen, a professor of social pharmacy at the University of Kuopio in Finland, who wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal.
"Studies over the years have shown that people with less education and low income suffer from more pain," Turunen said. "Their work environment is different, and they are not as interested in taking care of their health. Life habits are associated with economic status."
One notable finding of the survey was that people responsible for the care of others reported very high pain scores, Turunen said. "Attention should be paid by society," he said. But, he added, he'd avoid making recommendations about the United States because of his unfamiliarity with America's health-care system.
If you really want to read more about pain, consult the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Alan Kreuger, Ph.D., professor, economics, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J.; Juha H.O. Turunen, D.Pharm, professor, social pharmacy, University of Kuopio, Finland; May 3, 2008, The Lancet
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