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Grasping the economic cost of chronic pain

Article-Grasping the economic cost of chronic pain

Shutterstock economic impact of pain
A closer look at the impact of pain management in healthcare and how technology can help lift the burden.

For many patients, pain is more or less a permanent feature of their lives and has a significant impact on their quality of life. For these patients, it is important to manage the condition so that suffering is minimised for as long as possible. Pain represents a significant clinical, social, and economic problem that has challenged generations of healthcare professionals.

Due to its impact on absenteeism rates, productivity levels, and the risk of quitting the labour market, pain has a bigger economic impact than the majority of other health disorders. The NIH estimates that the expense of chronic pain is greater than that of some of the main diagnoses that are most closely related to the greatest rates of morbidity and mortality, including cardiovascular diseases (US$309 billion), cancer (US$243 billion), and injuries (US$205 billion).

Does chronic pain represent a major clinical, social, and economic problem?

“What we find is that pain remains a global issue, which just cannot be ignored. One-third of the world’s population are in pain every day, and this does not only affect the elderly population. In fact, one in five chronic pain sufferers is under the age of 30. Despite the wide prevalence of pain, there continues to be this inertia for treating pain stigma and expressing it,” says Tess Player, Global Head of Health Professional & Health Influencer Marketing at Haleon.

Haleon’s research reveals that pain can prevent people not only from leading a life they enjoy fully, but also from spending time with others. Pain affects mood. It affects the patient’s ability to do daily tasks and their productivity at work diminishes. This increases pressure on employers, which in turn increases costs from lost productivity.

“What drives us at Haleon is understanding that pain impacts the quality of life in several ways. It not only has a substantial economic burden on patients, healthcare services and societies, but it is evident that pain represents a burden on limited healthcare resources as well, such as pharmacists, primary care, etc., around the world. Our campaign #ListenToPain focuses on the need to shift perceptions and conversations around pain relief to drive active discussion and treatment of pain through supporting experts. This can influence patients to choose self-care, and ultimately reduce that burden overall,” says Player.

Mohamed El Nokrashy and Tess Player.png
Mohamed El Nokrashy and Tess Player

Technology’s role in pain management

Technology has the potential to support patients who are managing pain through self-care and can also support healthcare professionals to get a better understanding of the person’s pain journey, according to Mohamed El Nokrashy, Head of Expert and Communications Lead, Gulf and Near East, Haleon.

“For example, recording pain in instances and severity via applications can facilitate a more productive conversation around pain management. Technology, just like everyday trends, is evolving rapidly and we are likely to see new solutions being developed to help tackle some of the burdens and challenges in pain management. An example is allowing remote monitoring of pain, this will help better assess pain for patients who have less ability to communicate. Technology will definitely hold tremendous potential now and will be the force of the future,” he explains.


This article appears in Omnia Health magazine. Read the full issue online today.

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