HAMBURG, Germany, September 22, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
A group of European pain specialists today launches 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 £12.3 billion 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 undertreated. 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.
The Opioids and Pain European Network of Minds (OPENMinds; http://www.OPENMindsonline.org) is a group of leading European experts specialising in the research and the management of pain. OPENMinds is committed to helping patients and their families, healthcare professionals and decision-makers increase their knowledge and understanding of pain to ensure that all patients receive an optimal standard of care. OPENMinds is funded by a grant from Mundipharma International Limited.
About the White Paper
The OPENMinds White Paper explains how the burden of uncontrolled chronic non-cancer and cancer pain could be responsibly managed. The aim of this White Paper is to urge decision makers and emphasise that the enormous burden that chronic pain confers on sufferers, carers, healthcare systems and European economies could be reduced by concerted action by governments and healthcare providers. Further information can be found on http://www.OPENMindsonline.org.
Information about the European Federation of IASP chapters (EFIC) can be found online at: http://www.efic.org.
About chronic pain
Pain is a widespread problem across Europe, and an estimated one in five adults is affected with moderate to severe chronic pain. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as 'an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage'.
- Pain in Europe - a public health priority: A strategy to better diagnose and manage chronic pain and the responsible use of opioids. A European White Paper. OPENMinds, September 2011
- Breivik H, et al. Survey of chronic pain in Europe: prevalence, impact on daily life, and treatment. Eur J Pain. 2006; 10(4): 287-333
- Breaking through the Barrier, Chief Medical Officer 2008 Annual Report, March 2009
- Deandrea S, et al. Prevalence of undertreatment in cancer pain. A review of published literature. Ann Oncol 2008; 19: 1985-91
- International Association for the Study of Pain and delegates of International Pain Summit 2010. Declaration that Access to Pain Management Is a Fundamental Human Right, 2010
- World Health Organization. Ensuring balance in national policies on controlled substances: guidance for availability and accessibility of controlled medicines. WHO, 2011
- International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). IASP pain terminology. Available from: http://www.iasp-pain.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Pain_Definitions&Template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=1728. Last accessed 14.09.11