Some People in Pain Unlikely to Seek
percent of people with chronic pain did not seek physician help for
their pain, found a recent research study. The findings support the
opinion of many physicians that a large segment of patients have an
unmet need for pain care.
media attention and physician education are recommended to decrease the
number of "silent sufferers," according to the results of the study
that looked at 3,575 people. Of the 2,211 respondents who reported pain
of more than three months' duration, 22.4 percent (497) stated that
they had not informed their physician about their pain. The survey
covered a cross-section of residents of Olmsted County, Minn., from
March through June 2004.
whether the reasons for not seeking treatment are limited to minor
impact of pain on the person, or for other reasons such as poor
previous experiences with pain care, perceived lack of effective
treatments, and barriers to health care; lack of medical insurance, for
example, the researchers said.
importance of pain management has gained increasing recognition in the
last decade. In 1995, the American Pain Society declared pain to be the
fifth vital sign, a designation to increase pain awareness among health
increases in pain medicine prescription hint at a population of
patients with unmet pain needs, according to the study.
of patients in pain is essential to successful pain care. Despite
significant efforts, successful pain care clearly is not happening.
Physicians have a responsibility to ask their patients about chronic
pain," said Dr. Barbara Yawn, an Olmsted Medical Center physician and
an author of the study.
impact on society is significant. Pain sufferers report that their pain
interferes with their general activities and sleep. Approximately 25
percent of "silent sufferers," those not telling their physician about
their pain, indicated at least moderate interference with both general
activity and sleep. A larger proportion of vocal sufferers (43.2
percent) showed comparable levels of interference. In general, the
location of the pain had little effect on whether the patients reported
their pain. The study found that chronic pain suffers who do not seek
treatment tend to be younger men whose pain has less impact on their
results were published in the February issue of Mayo Clinic
Proceedings. Other researchers included Emmeline Watkins, Ph.D., from
the Department of Epidemiology at AstraZeneca, and Peter Wollan, Ph.D.,
from Olmsted Medical Center, and Dr. Joseph Melton, from Mayo Clinic.
The study was supported by a grant from AstraZeneca.
more information visit www.mayoclinicproceedings.com.