2013-10-14 14:53:33 -
Pain in Europe VIII – 8th EFIC Congress, 9–12 October 2013, Florence
One in five Europeans suffer from chronic pain, and the direct and indirect costs resulting from the condition amount to between 1.5 and 3% of total European GDP, Prof Hans Georg Kress, President of the European Pain Federation EFIC, said today at the Pain in Europe VIII Congress in Florence. Prof Kress called for investments in pain research, education and training, and specialised structures for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of chronic pain.
Florence, 10 October 2013 – Approximately 20% of the European adult population – more than 80 million people – suffer from chronic pain, meaning pain which occurs repeatedly over a period of three months or longer. This
is more than double the number of people with diabetes. Some 9% of Europeans experience pain on a daily basis. Back pain is especially common, reported by 63% of all chronic pain patients, followed by joint and rheumatic pain. The total direct and indirect costs of chronic pain amount to an estimated 1.5-3% of total European GDP.
These alarming figures were the subject of discussion today at the Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC in Florence, Italy. “It is vital that we raise awareness of chronic pain as a medical, economic and social problem. Chronic pain affects quality of life more than most other illnesses and it is the number one reason why people visit their doctor. Chronic pain has a major impact on everyday routines, and on work and family life. It not only causes personal suffering for millions – it has far greater effects on society than is usually assumed,” said EFIC President Prof Hans Georg Kress (Vienna, Austria).
Chronic pain: an enormous economic burden
With health and social services under pressure due to cost-cutting measures, it is all the more important to draw attention to the economic impact of chronic pain, said Prof Kress. “We are not just talking about the huge burden that the treatment of chronic pain places on health budgets, but above all the indirect costs arising from lost productivity and incapacity for work.”
Although two-thirds of chronic pain patients in Europe are technically still in work, their conditions account for 500 million sick days a year. Chronic pain is the most frequent cause of early retirement or incapacity for work. The risk of being forced to leave employment is seven times higher for chronic pain patients than for the general population.
Huge problem of undertreatment despite medical advances
A particularly worrying factor, Prof Kress explained, is that a considerable part of the negative impact on society is the result of inadequate treatment of pain. Despite major advances in chronic pain therapies, far too many patients do not benefit from the opportunities opened up by modern pain medicine. “More than half of chronic pain patients suffer from the condition for two years or more before they receive adequate treatment. One third of patients get no treatment at all, and around 38% say that the treatment received was not sufficient,” the EFIC President stated.
A challenge for health policy makers
The prevalence of chronic pain, its social and economic impact and the clear deficiencies in the level of care being provided amount to a wake-up call for EU and national health policy makers, Prof Kress believes. “We need investments in pain research, in education and training in this field, and most of all in specialised facilities for chronic pain prevention, treatment and rehabilitation. Less chronic pain, less suffering, greater productivity – we can achieve it, but it doesn’t come for free.”
EFIC Congress in Florence
Pain in Europe VIII, the 8th Congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC, is taking place from 9 to 12 October 2013 in Florence, Italy. More than 4,000 experts from all over the world are attending Europe’s largest pain medicine event. In EFIC’s 20th anniversary year, the Congress subtitled “20 years of building bridges” is dedicated to bridging the gap between research and treatment, promoting the transfer of basic research findings to clinical practice.
The wide-ranging programme sheds light on the latest discoveries in various areas of pain medicine. The European Pain Federation EFIC has returned to Italy this year on the occasion of its 20th anniversary: the first EFIC Congress took place in Verona in 1995.
Source: Breivik et al, Survey of chronic pain in Europe. European Journal of Pain 2006, Margarit, The impact of pain. Results from a survey in five big EU countries; www.sip-platform.eu , Pain Proposal: Improving the Current and Future Management of Chronic Pain. A European Consensus Report 2010, UK Department of Health. Annual report of the Chief Medical Officer; Pain, breaking through the barrier. 2008, European Pain Network: The EPN Manifesto, Phillips C et al, Prioritising pain in policy making: The need for a whole systems perspective, Health Policy 88, 2008, Jonsson E., Back pain, neck pain, Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care Report, NoP: 145: Stockholm, 2000
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