Facing obesity in pain rehabilitation clinics: Profiles of physical activity in patients with chronic pain and obesity—A study from the Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation (SQRP)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background The obesity epidemic has influenced pain rehabilitation clinics. To date, little is known about baseline level of physical activity (PA) in patients referred to pain rehabilitation clinics. We aimed to investigate the PA levels of patients referred to pain rehabilitation clinics and to evaluate the effect of excess weight on PA level. Methods and findings Data were obtained from the Swedish Quality Registry for Pain Rehabilitation between 2016 and 2017. These data included PA time (everyday PA and physical exercise per week), Body Mass Index (BMI), sociodemographic factors, chronic pain and psychological aspects (e.g., pain intensity, depressive and anxiety symptoms and insomnia problems). Insufficient PA was defined as less than 150 minutes per week. We performed logistic regressions as well as orthogonal partial least square regression to estimate the effects of excess weight on PA. Over one-fourth of the patients were classified as obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2, 871/3110, 25.3%) and nearly one-third of these patients were classified as severely obese (BMI ≥35 kg/m2, 242/871, 27.8%). Time estimations for physical exercise varied among the BMI groups, but patients in the higher BMI category were more likely to spend less time on everyday PA. Compared to normal weight, mild obesity [odds ratio (OR) 0.65, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.53–0.81] and severe obesity (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.42–0.74) were associated with less PA. Mild obese patients had an elevated risk of 65% and severe obese patients had an elevated risk of 96% for insufficient PA. Increased pain intensity was positively related to insufficient PA (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.06–1.29) among the obese patients. Conclusion Having low PA is very common for patients referred to pain rehabilitation clinics, especially for those with comorbid obesity. As a first step to increase PA, obese patients need to be encouraged to increase the intensity and amount of less painful daily PA.


External organisations
  • Linköping University
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0239818
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication categoryResearch