The objective of this study was to estimate the national burden of school absenteeism associated with pain among 6 to 17-year-old children in the United States.
Data were analyzed from a large, nationally representative sample from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. Associations between pain and school absence were analyzed using multivariate negative binomial models controlling for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics.
The sample contained 8641 participants, of whom 30.3% reported pain over the preceding 12 months. Mean number of parent-reported school days missed across the entire sample was 3 per child; however pain was associated with an additional 1.5 reported missed school days per child. Furthermore, pain was associated with higher rates of chronic absenteeism (missing >15 d of school): 6.1% of children with pain was chronically absent as compared with 1.3% of children without pain. Extrapolated to the nation, childhood pain in the United States was associated with 22.2 million additional days of missed school, whereas childhood asthma, in comparison, was associated with 8 million additional days of school missed.
Associations between pain and school absenteeism highlight the need for interventions aimed at improving school attendance among children with pain.