New study shows impact of pain on economy, strain on our healthcare
system and inadequate pain management training of medical professionals
QUEBEC CITY, May 28 /CNW/ - Pain is hurting our economy and debilitating
productivity in the Canadian workplace, says a recent survey conducted by
Nanos Research on behalf of painexplained.ca, an advocacy and awareness
campaign committed to raising awareness of the issue of under-treated pain in
Canada. A debilitating struggle for individuals, recent research shows pain is
hurting our healthcare system through increased utilization of health care
services. A severe shortage of treatment resources and a stingy approach to
funding pain research is compounding this aching public health crisis.
According to the painexplained.ca surveys of 4,000 Canadians conducted in
2007 and 2008, over 18% of adults suffer from chronic pain. Of the 600
moderate to severe chronic pain sufferers given a more detailed survey, almost
60% had lost their job, suffered loss of income or had a reduction in
responsibilities as a result of their pain. Among those who were still
employed, pain significantly affected absenteeism rates, with a mean number of
28.5 lost work days per year. Pain is negatively impacting our workforce,
causing a throbbing issue that must be addressed.
Previous studies have shown that waiting for pain treatment longer than 6
months increases the risk of permanent pain-related disability.(1) "Our
growing pain crisis will only intensify if we don't provide appropriate
treatment to people on a timely basis. Pain is hurting Canada - on both an
individual and societal level - and it is a national embarrassment that our
medical system pays so little attention to a problem that is so common and
costly," said Dr. Roman Jovey, painexplained.ca Steering Committee Member and
Past President of the Canadian Pain Society. "Our medical system is so focused
on finding the cure for the underlying disease that we are ignoring the
on-going suffering of people with pain. Veterinary students receive five times
the amount of training in pain management than doctors do. This means that
your dog will likely receive better pain treatment than your mother, partner,
child - or you."
Health care costs for treating individuals suffering from chronic pain
are skyrocketing. Estimates place direct health care costs for Canada to be
more than $6 billion per year (in year 2000 dollars) for individuals suffering
from chronic pain. By 2025, with the aging population, these costs can be
expected to rise to more than $10 billion per year (Phillips & Schopflocher,
2008)(2). According to the painexplained.ca survey, 70.5% of moderate to
severe chronic pain sufferers are currently being treated by a physician for
their pain - and this number will only increase.
"Unrelenting, never ending, pain affects every aspect of my life
including my financial security," said Lynn Cooper, a person who lives with
pain, President of the Canadian Pain Coalition and painexplained.ca Steering
Committee Member. "I would function at work in unbearable pain that
drastically reduced my productivity."
Chronic pain sufferers also experience mental health issues. According to
the painexplained.ca survey, almost 30% of chronic pain sufferers reported
being diagnosed with depression, while more than 20% were diagnosed with an
anxiety disorder. Almost 12% of chronic pain sufferers reported having both
diagnoses. The survey also reported that when compared to people with
depression, emphysema, kidney failure and heart disease, chronic pain
sufferers report the lowest health related quality of life.
According to another recent Canadian Pain Society (CPS) survey(3) less
than 1% of total funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research
(CIHR) is allocated to pain related research. This survey also revealed that
of 79 active researchers doing pain related studies in Canada, 65 had received
funding in the past five years amounting to a total of $80.9 million.
Statistics Canada reported that the total spending on research and development
in the health field amounted to $6.3 billion for 2007 (Statistics Canada,
2008). This means that a mere 0.25% of the total funding for health
research(4) is allotted to a condition that affects at least 18% of the
population. According to figures obtained by personal communication with CIHR,
only six randomized controlled trials examining treatments for pain have been
funded since 1999 and only two of these involved chronic pain.
painexplained.ca Survey Methodology
The survey was conducted in 2007 and repeated in 2008 by Nanos Research.
In each administration, 2,000 employed adults over the age of 18 with chronic
pain were given a short questionnaire and 300 with moderate to severe chronic
pain were administered a longer survey.
painexplained.ca is an awareness and advocacy campaign founded by the
Canadian Pain Society, Canadian Pain Coalition, and the Canadian Pain
Foundation. The www.painexplained.ca initiative seeks to promote awareness of
the issue of under treated pain in Canada through a long-term, coordinated
public awareness campaign with the goal of addressing the vital need to
achieve better understanding, prevention and management of all types of pain
Canadian Pain Society Annual Conference
Interview opportunities are available May 27-30, 2009 in Room No.2105 of
the Quebec City Convention Centre, 2nd floor.
(1) Lynch ME, Campbell F, Clark AJ, Dunbar MJ, Goldstein D, Peng P,
Stinson J, Tupper H. A systematic review of the effect of waiting for
treatment for chronic pain. Pain. 2008 May;136(1-2):97-116.
(2) The economics of Chronic Pain CJ Phillips D Schopflocher (2008). In
S Rashiq D Schopflocher, P Taenzer E Jonsson (Eds) Chronic Pain: A
Health Policy Perspective. Weinham, Germany: Wiley-Blackwell.
(3) Research funding for Pain in Canada. Lynch ME, Schopflocher D,
Taenzer P, Sinclair C. Pain Res and Manag. 2009 March/April:14:113-
115. Caitlin Sinclair BSc, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia
For further information:
For further information: To schedule an interview or for additional
information, please contact: Rob McEwan, Kyla Thoms, Argyle Communications,
Tel: (416) 968-7311, ext. 242, 237, firstname.lastname@example.org,