The Societal Impact of Pain – how much does pain cost?

Over 100 million Europeans live in constant pain

Here are some facts about the impact that chronic pain has on individuals, families and society as a whole. I’ll be speaking about this at the 2012 Societal Impact of Pain conference in Copenhagen, which runs from 29-31 May – the full programme is available here.

  • Incapacity benefit already costs the UK economy £6.7 billion pounds a year and is increasing at the fastest rate ever.
  • Chronic pain is often seen as a component of other conditions and, when it comes to funding services and even GP training, it is often overlooked. Yet, one in seven people suffers from chronic pain and 20% have done so for more than 20 years. These genuine cases of immobility contribute to 4.2% of the working population – that’s 2.6 million people – being on incapacity benefit, equating to a cost of £6.7 billion.
  • On average, pain education constitutes just 1% of programme hours for undergraduates, yet one in five of their patient consultations involve discussion of pain.
  • Across Europe, around 100 million people are living in constant pain. The economic cost of mismanaged pain is roughly equivalent to that of the recession in terms of lost opportunities to work. The societal impact, in terms of shortened lifespan, broken marriages and loss of self-esteem is inestimable.
  • Provision for chronic pain in the UK is limited and varying, despite the number of people suffering; currently only half of reported pain clinics offer Pain Management Programmes e.g. The Pain Toolkit.
  • The “Road Map for Action” outlines seven key policy dimensions on how EU institutions and member states could effectively address the societal impact of pain at both EU and national levels. More information on the EFIC SIP meeting is available at:

Register for SIP 2012 at: