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Global pain levels before and during the COVID-19 pandemic

Macchia, L. ORCID: 0000-0001-9558-4747, Delaney, L. & Daly, M. (2024). Global pain levels before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Economics and Human Biology, 52, article number 101337. doi: 10.1016/j.ehb.2023.101337


Physical pain has trended upward globally over the last decade. Here, we explore whether the COVID-19 pandemic modified this alarming trend. We used data from 146 countries worldwide (510,247 respondents) to examine whether pain levels changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjusted regressions across countries revealed that 33.3% of people were in pain in 2019, 32.8% in 2020, 32.5% in 2021, and 34.1% in 2022. The change in pain from 2019 to each of the pandemic years was not statistically significant. This suggests that, on average, there was no significant change in pain during the pandemic. However, from 2019 to 2020 there was a significant decline in pain among individuals over 55 years of age, those who were widowed, and those without children in the household. On a global scale, the COVID-19 pandemic was not associated with a significant change in pain levels. The concerning pre-pandemic elevation in global pain continued during this challenging period.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Publisher Keywords: Pain, COVID-19, pandemic, global evidence, survey research
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QR Microbiology > QR180 Immunology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


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