Chronic Pain Patients Feeling Discomfort to Being Ignored

Chronic Pain Patients Feeling Discomfort to Being Ignored

Two surveys, one completed and one nearly so, are in the news. They show a chronic pain patient who is at best uneasy and at worst alarmed about today’s environment.

Conversations between healthcare providers and people with chronic pain are “uncomfortable,” says a new survey conducted on behalf of Teva Pharmaceuticals in conjunction with the American Academy of Pain Management and US Pain Foundation.

The underlying issue is that pain medications “are prone for abuse and misuse” the organizations stated.

“Chronic pain and prescription drug abuse are both significant health issues impacting our society. However, the stigma surrounding both of these can make them very difficult to talk about,” said Bob Twillman, PhD, executive director of the American Academy of Pain Management. “I hope the survey results help facilitate important conversations between healthcare professionals and people affected by pain.”

The survey included 1,100 healthcare providers and 1,044 adults with chronic pain. The survey found:

  • More than half of healthcare professionals (59 %) and 40 % of patients felt they should take personal responsibility for addressing problems of opioid abuse.
  • However, nearly one-third (31 %) of healthcare professionals said they sometimes feel uncomfortable talking with their patients about prescription drug abuse and 40 % feel discussions of abuse may damage their relationships with patients.
  • Further, nearly a third of patients (29 %) worry that asking about abuse would suggest they have a problem and 25 % worry their doctor will stop prescribing medication if they ask too many questions.
  • Three-quarters of patients and 71 % of healthcare professionals believe that education is one of the best ways to help them deal with opioid abuse.

“It’s important to note that the person prescribed the medication isn’t necessarily the only one at risk for abuse and misuse. In fact, more than three out of four people who misuse prescription pain medications do so by using medication prescribed to someone else,” said Paul Gileno, President and Founder of the U.S. Pain Foundation.

A second online survey that is underway has been revealing a patient concern that is even more alarming than what the Teva survey reported.

“There is almost no reflected conversation going on between patients and their prescribers and where there is a conversation, it is focused on adherence, conformance, and conditions for continued prescribing rather than managing or improving the quality of patient quality of life,” said Terri Lewis, PhD, a patient advocate who has been exploring in an online survey some of the broad topic areas addressed in the draft National Pain Strategy.

Dr. Lewis, who is a mother and daughter of chronic pain patients, has been lecturing and writing on what she believes, is a broken health care delivery system.

“The current model is focused on ‘cure’ which is an automatic trip wire for treatment failure – all risk for this failure is passed on to the patient and the physician bears no responsibility for failing to properly conceptualize a theory of care for their complex patient who is NEVER going to cure,”

She is still gathering data and will be releasing it soon with the National Pain Report. If you haven’t taken the survey (click here).

In a related item, Teva announced it has launched a new website to support what it calls “responsible pain management”

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Janice Reynolds

“Chronic Pain Patients Feeling Discomfort to Being Ignored” yet all we are talking about in this article is the use of opioids. We should be talking about the need for developing pain plans which can include opioids (and applying safety education there) but also the use of non-opioid medication in addition to or instead of. With severe pain many times opioids will be necessary, however the use of some non-opioids such as acetaminophen, tricyclics, gabapentin, etc. can decrease the amount of opioids needed as well as non-pharmacological interventions which work for the patient. Medication for break through pain can prevent flares from going out of control and needing more medication. Can the person afford it. Non-pharmacological interventions don’t do any good if there is no insurance or insurance will not pay or pays insufficiently. Same with medications sometimes we are accused of throwing opioids at the pain but if other options are not affordable this may be our ethical choice/ These are the conversations we should be having and not treating people with pain like addicts wanting a fix; they want quality of life.


Until decision makers at the government level and the quasi-governmental level-professional orgaizations, sit down with people in pain in a respectful manner and develop a way that there is less top down decision making for each person in pain-then the current problems in pain care will not be solved.
The key determiner of access to services and treatments in pain care should be the person in pain- to do otherwise is to infantilize people in pain and exacerbate problems with dependency on a system that is not aligned with the needs of people in pain.