Table 1

Overview of all studies included in systematic review

StudyStudy designSample sourceSample sizeResponse rateMale (n)Age range (mean)Prevalence estimates included in systematic reviewMethod for data retrievalRisk of biasPrimary aim
Beasley et al26Cross-sectional2 GP practices in UK14 680†Postal questionnaireModerateTo see if the distribution of reported pain sites has any association with a number of potential risk markers
Macfarlane et al22CohortGB birth cohort12 06978.0%49.4% (3918)45Interview and examinationModerateTo determine to what extent the reporting of pain in adulthood varies by adult socioeconomic status
Gale et al34CohortGB birth cohort11 97178.3%49.2% (3399)45 (45)QuestionnaireLowTo investigate the relationship between intelligence in childhood and risk of CWP in adulthood
Smith et al25Cross-sectionalUK RCP OCP study11 79785.4%0%Postal questionnaireModerateTo examine the prevalence and factors associated with CP among women still in the RCoGP OCP Study
Croft et al38Case Control nested in CohortUK RCP OCP study11 79785.4%(0)(55)QuestionnaireLowTo identify associations between illness episodes and future pain complaints
Jones et al33CohortGB birth cohort10 45389.7%44–46 (45)Postal questionnaireLowTo examine whether children with common symptoms experience an increased risk of CWP as adults
Torrance et al29Cross-sectional10 GP practices, 5 locations across England and Scotland10 00044.5% (47.0%)42.9% (1846)>18 (53)Postal questionnaireModerateTo estimate the proportion of NeP in the population, that is, ‘refractory’
Bridges7Cross-sectionalPostcodes across England8599†(66.0%)44.4% (3817)16–100InterviewModerate
Vandenkerkhof et al23Case–control nested in cohortUK Birth cohort (England, Scotland and Wales)8572†45 (45)Postal questionnaireModerateTo examine the relationship between diet and lifestyle, and CWP
Torrance et al30Cross-sectional6 GP practices (Grampian, Leeds, London)600050.0% (52.4%)44.4% (1333)18–96 (50)Postal questionnaireModerateTo improve the understanding of chronic pain with neuropathic features using epidemiological research
Elliott et al11Cross-sectional29 GP practices across Grampian, Scotland503671.6% (82.3%)48.3% (1741)>25Postal questionnaireLowTo quantify and describe the prevalence and distribution of CP in the community
Smith et al*35Cross-sectional29 GP practices across Grampian, Scotland461178.2% (82.3%)48.3%>25Postal questionnaireModerateTo describe the prevalence and distribution in the community of CP defined as ‘significant’ and ‘severe’
Jones et al41Cross-sectionalGrampian NHS register460034.9% (36.3%)45.0%>25 (55)Postal questionnaireModerateTo determine the population prevalence of FM
Aggarwal et al39Cross-sectional1 GP practice in Manchester420059.6% (72.0%)45% (1035)18–75 (Mdn=48)Postal questionnaireModerateTo investigate the co-occurrence, in the general population, of syndromes that are frequently unexplained
Parsons et al28Cross-sectional16 GP practices across SE England417160% (62.0%)44.0% (1073)18–102 (52)Postal questionnaireModerateTo measure the prevalence and troublesomeness of musculoskeletal pain in different body locations and age groups
Macfarlane et al40Cross-sectional3 GP practices across NW England395069.9% (80.3%)41.1% (1020)25–65 (Mdn=54)Postal questionnaireModerateTo determine whether the report of pain is influenced by meteorological conditions
Macfarlane et al32Cross-sectional1 GP practice in Manchester300465.0% (75.0%)42.8% (835)18–65Postal questionnaireModerateTo determine whether psychological symptoms and mental disorder are an intrinsic part of the CWP syndrome
Mallen et al24Cross-sectional3 GP practices in North Staffordshire238935.9% (37.0%)18–25Postal questionnaireModerateTo establish the prevalence of severely disabling CP in young adults
Croft et al27Cross-sectional2 GP practices in Cheshire203466% (75.0%)43.0% (572)20–85 (Mdn=46)Postal questionnaireModerateTo establish the prevalence of CWP and associated symptoms in a general population sample
  • *Population sample is a duplicate from Elliot et al;11 therefore, only age-stratified prevalence estimates have been included. Response rates were adjusted to reflect the viable survey denominator.

  • †n=population responded (denominator not stated).

  • CP, chronic pain; CPG, chronic pain grade; CWP, chronic widespread pain; FM, fibromyalgia; GP, general practitioner; Mdn, median; n, number; NeP, neuropathic pain; NHS, National Health Service.