Thursday, July 1, 2010

European Specialists Get Tough on Chronic Pain

Briefly NotedReacting to the latest data showing that chronic pain is highly prevalent but undertreated across Europe, pain specialists have banded together in a new initiative to attack the problems. Could this become a model for other parts of the world?

We have recently noted [here] that chronic pain prevalence worldwide is at least 20% and much higher in select populations. A comprehensive literature review found that in Europe the average time between onset of chronic pain and referral to a specialist pain center is 12 years, and that pain relief at this stage is achieved by only 1 in 5 patients [Varrassi et al. 2010]. Among other problems, evidence-based guidelines are frequently ignored and pharmacologic therapies are based mainly on tradition or personal experience.

In response, pain specialists from across Europe have joined together in launching a major education program to improve the management of chronic pain. "Chronic pain should not be regarded as an indicator of an underlying disease or damaging process, but as a disease in its own right," said Professor Giustino Varrassi, president of the European Federation of the International Association for the Study of Pain, quoted in Medical News Today [Mayor 2010]. He was speaking at a meeting of the CHANGE PAIN initiative in June 2010. The group’s education program — which is noncommercial but supported by GrĂ¼nenthal GmbH — includes interactive e-learning modules designed to update healthcare professionals on the basics of: assessing pain, improving doctor-patient communication, multimodal management of chronic pain, and mechanism-orientated pharmacological pain therapy. The CHANGE PAIN website can be accessed at:

> Mayor S. Pain Specialists Across Europe Launch Education Programme To Improve Chronic Pain Management. Medical News Today. 2010(June 28) [
article here].
> Varrassi G, Muller-Schwefe G, Pergolizzi J, et al. Pharmacological treatment of chronic pain – the need for CHANGE. Curr Med Res Opin. 2010;26(5):1231-1245 [
abstract here].