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Table 1 Demographic characteristics and chronic pain history among homeless participants by Chronic Pain Grade (n = 146)

From: Chronic pain among homeless persons: characteristics, treatment, and barriers to management

Characteristic Chronic Pain p-value
  Grade I (n = 11) Grade II (n = 47) Grade III (n = 34) Grade IV (n = 54)  
Age (years), mean (sd) 48.2 (9.2) 44.9 (11.7) 45.9 (12.6) 46.2 (9.3) 0.826
Sex, n (%)      0.378*
   Male 7 (63.6) 39 (83.0) 29 (85.3) 43 (79.6)  
   Female 4 (36.4) 7 (14.9) 5 (14.7) 11 (20.4)  
   Transgendered 0 (0.0) 1 (2.1) 0 (0.0) 0 (0.0)  
Lifetime duration of homelessness, n (%)      0.665
   < 2 years 5 (45.5) 25 (53.2) 16 (47.1) 22 (40.7)  
   ≥ 2 years 6 (54.5) 22 (46.8) 18 (52.9) 32 (59.3)  
Source of income, n (%)      
   Disability benefits 2 (18.2) 10 (21.3) 11 (33.3) 15 (27.8) 0.595
   Social assistance 3 (27.3) 9 (19.1) 8 (24.2) 11 (20.4) 0.906
   Wages or salary 4 (36.4) 11 (23.4) 3 (9.1) 4 (7.4) 0.020
Highest level of education, n (%)      0.084
   Less than high school 1 (9.1) 18 (38.3) 15 (44.1) 27 (50.0)  
   High school or equivalent 10 (90.9) 29 (61.7) 19 (55.9) 27 (50.0)  
Has a regular medical doctor, n (%) 7 (63.6) 20 (42.6) 21 (61.8) 36 (66.7) 0.087
Duration of chronic pain (years), mean (sd) 7.5 (6.8) 9.8 (9.8) 8.3 (9.0) 12.5 (10.9) 0.184
Age at onset of pain (years), mean (sd) 40.6 (11.9) 35.4 (13.6) 37.6 (13.3) 33.7 (13.2) 0.339
Location of pain, n (%)      
   Back 2 (18.2) 18 (38.3) 20 (58.8) 34 (63.0) 0.009
   Knees 4 (36.4) 11 (23.4) 8 (23.5) 18 (33.3) 0.579
   Shoulders 2 (18.2) 7 (14.9) 6 (17.6) 16 (29.6) 0.292
   Feet 2 (18.2) 11 (23.4) 5 (14.7) 9 (16.7) 0.754
   Legs 0 (0.0) 5 (10.6) 3 (8.8) 16 (29.6) 0.009
   Hands 0 (0.0) 7 (14.9) 5 (14.7) 10 (18.5) 0.483
   Hips 1 (9.1) 7 (14.9) 5 (14.7) 8 (14.8) 0.965
   Ankles 3 (27.3) 6 (12.8) 2 (5.9) 10 (18.5) 0.228
   Abdomen/genitourinary 1 (9.1) 7 (14.9) 2 (5.9) 8 (14.8) 0.571
   Neck 1 (9.1) 5 (10.6) 2 (5.9) 8 (14.8) 0.623
   Widespread pain 0 (0.0) 1 (2.1) 0 (0.0) 3 (5.6) --
   Other location 5 (45.5) 13 (27.7) 9 (26.5) 28 (51.9) --
Cause of pain, n (%)      
   Injury 7 (63.6) 26 (55.3) 20 (58.8) 34 (63.0) 0.875
   Arthritis 1 (9.1) 5 (10.6) 7 (20.6) 13 (24.1) 0.278
   Other 2 (18.2) 21 (44.7) 15 (44.1) 23 (42.6) --
   Don't know 1 (9.1) 7 (14.9) 6 (17.6) 11 (20.4) 0.784
Unmet needs for pain management, n (%) 2 (18.2) 12 (25.5) 9 (26.5) 16 (29.6) 0.878
Number of barriers to pain management, mean (sd)§ 2.6 (2.7) 3.7 (3.2) 5.6 (3.1) 7.3 (3.8) < 0.001
Pain control, n (%)      < 0.001
   Very or somewhat controlled 10 (90.9) 35 (76.1) 14 (41.2) 19 (35.2)  
   Very or somewhat uncontrolled 1 (9.1) 11 (23.9) 20 (58.8) 35 (64.8)  
Satisfaction with medical care, n (%)**      0.049
   Very or somewhat satisfied 4 (100.0) 14 (63.6) 16 (72.7) 16 (44.4)  
   Very or somewhat unsatisfied 0 (0.0) 8 (36.4) 6 (27.3) 20 (55.6)  
Currently being treated for pain in body, n (%) 1 (9.1) 16 (34.0) 18 (52.9) 25 (46.3) 0.042
Treatments used for pain in past 3 months, n (%)      
   OTC medications 5 (45.5) 21 (44.7) 19 (55.9) 25 (46.3) 0.766
   Street drugs 3 (27.3) 18 (38.3) 18 (52.9) 28 (51.9) 0.253
   Prescription medications†† 1 (9.1) 13 (27.7) 21 (61.8) 30 (55.6) < 0.001
   Alcohol 1 (9.1) 15 (31.9) 9 (26.5) 18 (33.3) 0.412
   Other therapies‡‡ 3 (27.3) 14 (29.8) 4 (11.8) 14 (25.9) --
Concurrent medical conditions      
   Depression 4 (36.4) 15 (31.9) 16 (47.1) 23 (42.6) 0.532
   Arthritis 3 (27.3) 12 (25.5) 11 (32.4) 26 (48.1) 0.099
   Asthma 1 (9.1) 11 (23.4) 15 (44.1) 18 (33.3) 0.085
   Liver problems or hepatitis 2 (18.2) 11 (23.4) 10 (29.4) 19 (35.2) 0.502
   High blood pressure 3 (27.3) 9 (19.1) 10 (29.4) 18 (33.3) 0.452
   Migraine headaches 0 (0.0) 7 (14.9) 12 (35.3) 19 (35.2) 0.013
   COPD 1 (9.1) 7 (14.9) 7 (20.6) 14 (25.9) 0.425
   Stomach or intestinal ulcers 0 (0.0) 5 (10.6) 5 (14.7) 14 (25.9) 0.074
   Heart disease 0 (0.0) 2 (4.3) 7 (20.6) 8 (14.8) 0.068
   Other conditions 4 (36.4) 16 (34.0) 20 (58.8) 36 (66.7) --
Count of concurrent medical conditions, mean (sd) 1.6 (0.9) 2.2 (1.8) 3.5 (2.1) 4.0 (2.7) < 0.001
Substance use in past 3 months, n (%)† §§      
   Alcohol 5 (45.5) 31 (66.0) 21 (61.8) 36 (66.7) 0.583
   Marijuana 2 (18.2) 23 (48.9) 21 (61.8) 26 (48.1) 0.093
   Cocaine and other stimulants 3 (27.3) 14 (29.8) 18 (52.9) 17 (31.5) 0.117
   Opiates*** 3 (27.3) 16 (34.0) 16 (47.1) 17 (31.5) 0.435
   Sleeping pills or sedatives 2 (18.2) 8 (17.0) 7 (20.6) 10 (18.5) 0.983
   Other drugs 0 (0.0) 2 (4.3) 0 (0.0) 3 (5.6) --
CAGE score, mean (sd)††† 0.6 (0.9) 1.2 (1.4) 1.3 (1.5) 1.6 (1.6) 0.500
  1. OTC = over the counter; COPD = chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (incl. chronic bronchitis and emphysema);
  2. -- = statistical test not performed
  3. Notes:
  4. *Chi-square test excludes transgendered participant
  5. Participants could select more than one option; percentages may not add to 100%
  6. In order to be eligible for the study, participates had to have pain lasting at least three months
  7. § Includes both spontaneous responses and those that were prompted
  8. **Among participants who are receiving medical care
  9. †† Must have been prescribed by physician
  10. ‡‡ Includes herbal remedies, acupuncture, physical therapy, psychotherapy, massage therapy, and relaxation techniques
  11. §§ Not prescribed by physician
  12. ***Includes Tylenol 2 or 3 containing codeine, oxycodone, morphine, heroin, methadone, and other opiates
  13. ††† Among participants who have used alcohol in past three months.