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Scandinavian Journal of Pain

Official Journal of the Scandinavian Association for the Study of Pain

Editor-in-Chief: Werner, Mads

CiteScore 2018: 0.85

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.494
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.427

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Volume 16, Issue 1


The association between adolescent and parental use of non-prescription analgesics for headache and other somatic pain – A cross-sectional study

Synva Nesheim Hasseleid
  • Section for Public Health Science, Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Jocelyne Clench-Aas / Ruth Kjærsti Raanaas
  • Section for Public Health Science, Department of Landscape Architecture and Spatial Planning, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Christofer Lundqvist
  • Corresponding author
  • Health Services Research Centre, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway
  • Department Neurology, Akershus University Hospital, Lørenskog, Norway
  • Institute of Clinical Medicine, Campus Akershus University Hospital, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-07-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2017.04.069

Graphical Abstract


Background and purpose

Over the last years, concern has been expressed about adolescents’ possible liberal attitude towards – and use of – non-prescription analgesics. A high consumption of analgesics is unfortunate as it may lead to various harmful effects and worsening of headache. In order to address this challenge, it is necessary to achieve a more extensive knowledge about adolescent consumption. The main aim of this study was to examine the association between adolescent and parental use of nonprescription analgesics, taking into account headache as well as other somatic pain. The effects of parental prescription analgesics use was a secondary aim.


The study is based on data from two cross-sectional health studies conducted in 2005 and 2012 in Norway, including 646 adolescents and an accompanying parent. By using sample weights, the final weighted sample used in the analysis was 1326. Data was collected through postal questionnaires to parents and adolescents as well as parental telephone interviews. Questionnaires included questions on different pain locations and the pain for each location was graded according to how troubling the pain was. Medication data on prescription and non-prescription analgesics was from telephone interviews and was quantified based on the pattern over the past 4 weeks. Multivariate logistic regression models and complex samples analyses were used.


20% of adolescents were reported as using non-prescription analgesics during the previous 4 weeks. Girls were more often reported to use non-prescription analgesics than boys. Headache and all other somatic pain locations except back pain were reported more frequently among girls while boys more frequently reported back pain. There was a clear association between the use of non-prescription analgesics and headache with 34% of adolescents with headache using non-prescription analgesics versus 19% of adolescents with other somatic pain and 14% of adolescents not reporting pain. Among adolescents reporting headache, 9% were reported to use non-prescription analgesics daily or almost daily versus 3% and 2% among those reporting other somatic pain and reporting no pain respectively. In addition, parental use of non-prescription analgesics was a strong independent predictor of adolescent use (adjusted OR 1.69 for boys, 1.54 for girls). This relationship increased when the adolescents were less bothered by headache themselves.


Headache is the dominant medication-driving pain for non-prescription analgesics among adolescents but parental medication use of non-prescription analgesics also strongly influences adolescent use.


There is a need for health services to improve information to parents and adolescents about risks associated with use of analgesics and also to work on prophylactic strategies focusing on adolescents. Parents should be made aware that their medicine use strongly influences that of their children.

Keywords: Analgesics; Adolescent; Parents; Children; Headache; Pain


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About the article

Research Centre, Akershus University Hospital, 1478 Lørenskog, Norway.

Received: 2017-02-07

Revised: 2017-04-18

Accepted: 2017-04-30

Published Online: 2017-07-01

Published in Print: 2017-07-01

Ethical issues: The “Norway Living Condition Survey” of 2005 and 2012 was approved by the Data Protection Officer of Statistics Norway. Participation was by written informed consent and all analyses were done on anonymized data. For adolescents, parental consent was required [24, 25]. Permission to withdraw data from Statistics Norway living conditions surveys 2005 and 2012 for this study was given by Norwegian Social Science Data Service (NSD).

Conflict of interest: The authors report no conflict of interests.

Citation Information: Scandinavian Journal of Pain, Volume 16, Issue 1, Pages 114–121, ISSN (Online) 1877-8879, ISSN (Print) 1877-8860, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjpain.2017.04.069.

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