Actions for Chronic Pain Treatment Policy Needed

By The Societal Impact Of Pain, PRNE
Wednesday, October 12, 2011

MELBOURNE, Australia, October 13, 2011 -


First Results from Road Map Monitor for Australia revealed

During the 7th Congress of the European Federation of the IASP® Chapters (EFIC®) in Hamburg/Germany (21-24 September), initial insights from a European and Australian Road Map Monitor 2011 were presented. The analysis showed first findings on the strategic implementation of a “Road Map for Action” for improved pain care on international and national level. The Road Map Monitor 2011 provides politicians and health care decision makers with a benchmark on national policy in pain care throughout Europe and Australia.

The Road Map Monitor 2011 is based on the “Road Map for Action”, the major outcome of the symposium “The Societal Impact of Pain 2011″, which took place in the European Parliament in Brussels/Belgium in May 2011. It outlines seven key policy dimensions on how governments can effectively address the societal impact of pain (the full Road Map is available at Moreover, the Road Map is endorsed by more than 55 organisations across Europe&Australia with different backgrounds reflecting the broad relevance of this document.

As Lesley Brydon, CEO of Painaustralia, a network of healthcare and consumer organizations, explains: “Painaustralia was formed to work with government policy makers, insurers, employers and consumers to implement the National Pain Strategy. The Road Map Monitor 2011 demonstrates that first successes could be achieved, but there is still a long way to go to ensure optimal pain access for all patients in Australia.”

In order to monitor the implementation of the SIP Road Map nationally, the Road Map Monitor questionnaire has been developed. In addition to the seven policy dimensions which are being evaluated, other questions regarding the major achievements and major problems a country is encountering with regard to their local pain policy, were asked. The analysis was conducted from data from 27 countries.

First key results for Australia can be summarised as follows:

  • As in most European countries, in Australia there exists a platform representing the societal impact of pain on national level.
  • General recognition by national authorities of the right of every citizen to have access to adequate pain care (demonstrated by a regulation or policy) is still in progress; national statutory health care authorities have started to see pain care as top priority.
  • The integration of pain medicine and care as mandatory teaching subject as well as an educational programme on pain pathophysiology for the general public (”pain is real”) has been initiated.


  • Patient access to pain care (diagnosis, treatment, medication) is not yet sufficiently ensured
  • Chronic pain treatment policy ensuring adequate waiting times and financing (early diagnosis and secondary prevention) has rarely been implemented
  • Local policies and/or high-level working group to monitor the outcomes of pain care policy have not been installed

These preliminary results give a first impression of what is expected from the completed Road Map Monitor once finalised and published in the near future. The aim is to constantly monitor the progress of the implementation of the Road Map for Action and communicate the findings of the Road Map Monitor to national governments to improve policy-making regarding the societal impact of pain on international level.

“The results from the Australian Road Map Monitor reflect the need for the Australian government to acknowledge pain as a specific health condition, which has an enormous impact on our society at large and our healthcare and economic system. It therefore should be made a priority on their health care agenda”, comments Stephanie Davies, Head of Service at the Pain Medicine Unit, Fremantle Hospital Health Service and Western Australia Director of the Australian Pain Society, who attended the EFIC congress in Hamburg.

Prevalence and Cost of Pain in Australia

Chronic or severe persistent pain is one of the top three most expensive health care conditions in Australia, costing $34 billion per annum[i], as explains Professor Michael Cousins, Chair National Pain Strategy: “Pain is one of the biggest health issues in Australia today - every bit as big as cancer, AIDS and coronary heart disease. Yet it remains one of the most neglected areas of health-care”[ii].  

Epidemiological research shows that one in every five people in Australia suffers chronic pain and a third of these have severe pain associated with severe disability. One in 25 of all patients seen in primary care is in this latter category.  The prevalence of chronic pain is projected to increase as Australia’s population ages, from around 3.2 million Australians in 2007 to 5 million by 2050[i].

Notes to Editors:

About the “Societal Impact of Pain”

The “Societal Impact of Pain” (SIP) is an international, multi-stakeholder platform created in 2010 and aims to raise awareness of the relevance of the impact that pain has on our societies, health and economic systems, exchanging information and sharing best-practices across all member states of the European Union, and developing and fostering European-wide policy strategies & activities for improved pain care in Europe. Responsibility for the scientific framework of the SIP platform rests with the European Federation of IASP® Chapters (EFIC®). The pharmaceutical company Grünenthal GmbH is responsible for logistics, support and organisation.

About EFIC

The European Federation of IASP® chapters (EFIC®) is a multidisciplinary professional organisation in the field of pain science and medicine, made up of the 35 European Chapters of National Pain Societies of IASP (International Association for the Study of Pain). Established in 1993, EFIC’s 35 constituent chapters represent pain societies from 35 countries.

i. Blyth F et al. The high price of pain. Access economics 2007




European Federation of IASP® Chapters
Medialaan 24, 1800 Vilvoorde - Belgium
Tel: +32-2-251-55-10
Fax: +32-2-251-48-10


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