Study finds some people in pain unlikely to seek treatment

February 10, 2006

A Rochester-based study has found more than 20 percent of people with chronic pain did not seek physician help for their pain. The study supports the opinion of many physicians that a large segment of patients has an unmet need for pain care.

Increased media attention and physician education are recommended to decrease the number of "silent sufferers," according to the study. Published in the February issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the study 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.

It is unclear 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 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 care professionals.

The rapid increases in pain medicine prescription hint at a population of patients with unmet pain needs, according to the study.

Barbara Yawn, M.D., an Olmsted Medical Center physician and an author of the study, says, "Identification 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."

Pain's health 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 usual activities.

Other researchers included Emmeline Watkins, Ph.D., from the Department of Epidemiology at AstraZeneca, and Peter Wollan, Ph.D., from Olmsted Medical Center, and Joseph Melton, M.D., from Mayo Clinic. The study was supported by a grant from AstraZeneca.

A peer-review journal, Mayo Clinic Proceedings publishes original articles and reviews dealing with clinical and laboratory medicine, clinical research, basic science research and clinical epidemiology. Mayo Clinic Proceedings is published monthly by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research as part of its commitment to the medical education of physicians. The journal has been published for more than 75 years and has a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally. Articles are available online at www.mayoclinicproceedings.com.
-end-
To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to www.mayoclinic.org/news.

Mayo Clinic

Related Health Care Articles from Brightsurf:

Study evaluates new World Health Organization Labor Care Guide for maternity care providers
The World Health Organization developed the new Labor Care Guide to support clinicians in providing good quality, women-centered care during labor and childbirth.

Six ways primary care "medical homes" are lowering health care spending
New analysis of 394 U.S. primary care practices identifies the aspects of care delivery that are associated with lower health care spending and lower utilization of emergency care and hospital admissions.

Modifiable health risks linked to more than $730 billion in US health care costs
Modifiable health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and smoking, were linked to over $730 billion in health care spending in the US in 2016, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health.

Spending on primary care vs. other US health care expenditures
National health care survey data were used to assess the amount of money spent on primary care relative to other areas of health care spending in the US from 2002 to 2016.

MU Health Care neurologist publishes guidance related to COVID-19 and stroke care
A University of Missouri Health Care neurologist has published more than 40 new recommendations for evaluating and treating stroke patients based on international research examining the link between stroke and novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Large federal program aimed at providing better health care underfunds primary care
Despite a mandate to help patients make better-informed health care decisions, a ten-year research program established under the Affordable Care Act has funded a relatively small number of studies that examine primary care, the setting where the majority of patients in the US receive treatment.

International medical graduates care for Medicare patients with greater health care needs
A study by a Massachusetts General Hospital research team indicates that internal medicine physicians who are graduates of medical schools outside the US care for Medicare patients with more complex medical needs than those cared for by graduates of American medical schools.

The Lancet Global Health: Improved access to care not sufficient to improve health, as epidemic of poor quality care revealed
Of the 8.6 million deaths from conditions treatable by health care, poor-quality care is responsible for an estimated 5 million deaths per year -- more than deaths due to insufficient access to care (3.6 million) .

Under Affordable Care Act, Americans have had more preventive care for heart health
By reducing out-of-pocket costs for preventive treatment, the Affordable Care Act appears to have encouraged more people to have health screenings related to their cardiovascular health.

High-deductible health care plans curb both cost and usage, including preventive care
A team of researchers based at IUPUI has conducted the first systematic review of studies examining the relationship between high-deductible health care plans and the use of health care services.

Read More: Health Care News and Health Care Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.