Patient education and self-management key to successfully managing chronic pain

Thursday, December 7, 2017

‘Empowering people to self-manage their pain on a daily basis is key to managing chronic pain, reducing pain-related disability and facilitating return-to-work,’ said Senior Research Director Dr Linc Thurecht when commenting on the latest Health Policy Evidence Brief, Power through knowledge: patient education and self-management keys to successfully managing chronic pain, published today by the Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association’s Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research.

‘To date, our national response to more effectively prevent and manage our pain burden has been fragmented.

‘By making pain a national priority for policy change we can start to take steps to reducing the impact of pain towards a reinvigorated and longer term national pain strategy.

‘Chronic pain affects one in five Australian adults and children and one in three people aged over the age of 65.

‘The most recent data, from 2007, shows chronic pain costs the Australian economy more than $34 billion annually, with productivity costs of $11 billion and direct health care costs of $7 billion—10 years later these figures are likely to have increased.

Painaustralia Chief Executive Officer Carol Bennett said, ‘Today’s Evidence Brief proposes six actions the Australian Government should focus on as part of a long-term national strategy to reduce Australia’s pain burden on the economy, on productivity and on those who live with pain and their families.

‘Empowering consumers to understand pain treatment and self-management because when consumers are better educated about pain management and self-management, this creates less demand for pain services.

‘Acting to prevent chronic pain and intervene early as this would help reduce harms from opioid misuse and associated costs to the economy.

‘Increasing access to pain services in regional areas, for example, telehealth services and outreach clinics offer significant opportunity to expand services to regional and remote Australia.

‘Building capacity in the health workforce so it is more able to prevent, manage, treat and support people living with chronic pain.

‘Facilitating return-to-work to reduce pain-related disability in injured workers will be essential to policy reform.

‘Supporting a better understanding of pain through targeted research into the impact of pain on productivity, health care costs, communities and families, and socio-economic outcomes.  Supporting ongoing research into the science of pain and the most effective treatments will also be important.

To read the Evidence Brief, see:

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.