(2012), "Europe - European pain experts demand governments give chronic pain higher priority", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 25 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijhcqa.2012.06225aaa.009Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Europe - European pain experts demand governments give chronic pain higher priority
Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 25, Issue 1
Keywords: Chronic pain management, Healthcare improvement, Quality of life improvement
A group of European pain specialists have launched a White Paper highlighting the widespread inadequate management of chronic pain and calls for governments to prioritise its prevention and management.
The White Paper signals to governments across Europe the urgent need for action to resolve these problems and improve outcomes for the one in five adults in Europe suffering from chronic pain.
“The research we have included in the White Paper reveals an alarmingly high prevalence of uncontrolled chronic pain in our communities. This serious public health problem must be addressed as a priority and people suffering from pain must receive comprehensive evaluation and assessment by skilled healthcare professionals” explains Dr Magdi Hanna, member of OPENMinds, Consultant in Pain Medicine and Director of the Analgesics & Pain Research Unit in Beckenham, Kent.
The White Paper highlights the impact of chronic pain, both from personal and societal perspectives. People suffering with chronic pain can have depression and a reduced quality of life. The condition can also have enormous costs for society, such as the direct costs of health and social care associated with inadequate management and the costs that result from sufferers or their carers being unable to work. In the United Kingdom alone, for instance, it has been estimated that back pain costs the economy at least £1billion per year.
Survey data from 2003 has shown that a third of chronic pain sufferers surveyed in Europe are not being treated, and a subsequent review of the published literature concluded that almost half of patients with cancer pain are under treated. The OPENMinds members explain that this could be due to both the public and health care professionals having limited understanding and knowledge of chronic pain, which can also lead to misdiagnoses. Governments are urged to work with educational institutes to review existing guidance and improve training around chronic pain for healthcare professionals, as well as undertake targeted public education.
Furthermore, the White Paper confirms that there continue to be restrictions on the availability and accessibility of treatments, including opioids.
“Despite the existence of inexpensive and effective pain relief medicines, millions of Europeans continue to suffer from severe, chronic pain each year without adequate treatment. Pain relief is a human right, as recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Human Rights Watch, so EU Member States should make effective management of chronic pain and access to treatments a public health priority, as recommended by OPENMinds and EFIC” commented Professor Hans Kress, President of the European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain (EFIC).
OPENMinds has made five recommendations to improve outcomes for the millions of people across Europe suffering from chronic pain:
Increasing the priority of chronic pain as a public health issue.
Allocation of appropriate resources to pain care services.
Education of healthcare professionals and the public.
Establishing multidisciplinary pain assessment and management clinics.
Ensuring the availability and accessibility of appropriate pain medications and the promotion and support of further research.
“By implementing our recommendations, national governments will be taking a step towards reducing human suffering and reducing the massive strain on costs linked to uncontrolled chronic pain” concludes Dr Hanna.
The world’s largest multidisciplinary organisation focussing specifically on pain research and treatment, International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), believes that pain management is currently inadequate because of substandard access to assessment and treatment, and a failure to recognise that chronic pain is a serious chronic health problem. The WHO has repeatedly drawn attention to the barriers to access to controlled medicines resulting from legislation and policy, knowledge and societal attitudes and economic aspects, including affordability. OPENMinds believes it is time for this to change.
For more information: www.asianhhm.com