New report calls for significant improvements in chronic pain management – a condition estimated to cost the Irish economy a staggering 2.5bn per year.
A new report suggests that chronic pain is a significant economic burden due to current system inefficiencies. The report, entitled Pain Proposal, argues that chronic pain should be afforded the same resources as other major conditions in order to deliver cost savings and better patient outcomes. Chronic pain affects 13% of the Irish population (approximately 400,000 people), with almost a third of these suffering from severe pain.
The Irish research was developed by a range of experts in the fields of chronic pain, policy and economics. It was commissioned for inclusion in the Pain Proposal, a Europe-wide consensus report being drawn up in partnership with Pfizer, Irish Pain Society, Chronic Pain Ireland and Arthritis Ireland.
Recent cost studies show that the average cost of chronic pain exceeds €6,000 per patient per year. Given the prevalence of the condition, chronic pain is estimated to cost the Irish economy as much as 2.5 billion euro per annum. This figure is conservative as costs associated with those with severe pain are significantly higher. Indeed recent analysis suggests that the cost of treating chronic pain in Ireland might even be double this figure.
According to the survey commissioned for inclusion in the report one in three are struggling with their chronic pain and also fear that their illness and absences from work may lead to termination of employment. 42% of respondents said employers and peers still doubt the existence of their pain and a quarter have been accused of using pain as an excuse not to work.
The Pain Proposal is calling on governments and health services across Europe to tackle chronic pain and provide access to a minimum standard of care for all people with the condition.
The report argues that treating chronic pain with the same seriousness afforded to other major conditions or disease, can deliver both cost savings and better outcomes for patients through more efficient pain management. In addition, there needs to be recognition that chronic pain diagnosis and treatment requires appropriate medical specialist training and support.
Indeed, the report echoes earlier calls by the Irish pain community for chronic pain to be acknowledged as a “Disease” in its own right.
For further information on chronic pain log on to the ‘Can You Feel My Pain’ page on www.chronicpain.ie.
Published: 26th October 2010.