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The results of a study were recently unveiled in Prague as part of European Week Against Pain indicating that one in five Europeans are living in significant if not debilitating pain. The European Federation of International Association for the Study of Pain Chapters (EFIC) organized the event.
Pain accounts for nearly 500 million lost working days a year, at a cost of up to $36 billion to the European economy and has lead 15 million people to consider suicide. In the most in depth long-term pain survey ever conducted in Europe over 46,000 people, averaging 50 years of age, were interviewed for the study across 16 European countries.
Chronic pain was defined as pain lasting for 3 months or more. The study found that 75 million pain sufferers lived with sometimes agonizing pain for more than seven years with a fifth of sufferers enduring agony for 20 years or more. The most frequent cause of pain was in the 34 percent group who suffered from arthritis. One in five of the chronic pain sufferers reported that they had lost jobs as a result of their condition.
Inadequate response to the problem on the part of the health care system and policy makers has taken a toll on the European population. Twenty-one percent of those who reported chronic pain were diagnosed with depression and one in six reported that at times their pain was so severe they wanted to die.
Norway had the highest incidence of reported chronic pain at 33 percent. Italy was next at 26 percent, Germany reported 17 percent, France was 15 percent, in Britain the figure was 13 percent and Spain was the lowest at 11 percent.
According to Professor Harald Breivik, president of the EFIC, a study of 3,000 doctors in the UK revealed that only 15 percent recall receiving any education on pain control management. He believes pain should be seen as not just a symptom but as a disease in its own right and that appropriate recognition of the problem would result in greater public access to pain management centers.
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