Chronic Pain Can Affect Over Half of Adults Interview with:

Dr Alan Fayaz MA MBBS MRCP FRCA FFPMRCA Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Dr. Alan Fayaz

Dr Alan Fayaz
Consultant in Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine
University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Fayaz: Despite fairly well established negative consequences of chronic pain (social, psychological, biological) very little is known about the burden of chronic pain in the United Kingdom. For example healthcare costs relating to chronic pain in the USA outstrip those of Cancer and Cardiovascular disease, and yet the profile of chronic pain (as disease in its own right) is not nearly as well established as either of those conditions. Surprisingly, prior to our study, there was little consensus regarding the prevalence of chronic pain in the UK. The purpose of our review was to synthesise existing data on the prevalence of various chronic pain phenotypes, in the United Kingdom, in order to produce accurate and contemporary national estimates. What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Fayaz: Chronic pain, defined by convention as pain lasting for a period of three months or longer, effects a staggering 43% of the adult population of the UK (28 million people), and as much as 62% of older age groups (75 and over). This suggests that the burden of chronic pain is likely to increase even further in line with an aging population. Alarmingly however, as much as 30% of young adults (18-39 year old) may experience chronic pain, suggesting that it remains highly prevalent amongst working populations too. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Fayaz: Future research, as well as government policy, should really be focused on developing tools that allow us to identify the needs of chronic pain sufferers, in particular those most severely affected, in order to better understand their specific care needs and to establish meaningful targets for prevention. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Dr. Fayaz: We must prioritise this important cause of distress and disability in the general population. Chronic pain is a potentially disabling condition that affects between 1/2 and 2/3 of the UK population, and represents a silent epidemic that has, so far, not achieved the level of attention offered to other chronic conditions such as cancer, dementia and cardiovascular disease. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Prevalence of chronic pain in the UK: a systematic review and meta-analysis of population studies

A Fayaz, P Croft, R M Langford, L J Donaldson, G T Jones

BMJ Open 2016;6:6 e010364 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010364

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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