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New study counts the economic cost of persistent pain in Australia

Pain medicine experts are setting out to conduct the first ever study to determine the true economic cost of persistent pain in Australia in a project being funded by the MBF Foundation.

An estimated one in five Australians of working age suffers from relentless and often disabling pain but as few as 10 per cent of those affected are getting adequate treatment.

The Foundation is backing a $115,000 research project led by pain management pioneer Professor Michael Cousins AM and Dr Fiona Blyth at Sydneys Pain Management Research Institute. Access Economics is providing the economic modelling.

Professor Cousins said the projects aim is to use the new data to identify priority actions to ease suffering, save healthcare dollars and to help patients get on with productive lives.

Results are expected by the end of the year and are likely to recommend more government resources to deal with the issue of persistent pain and medical and public education programs to ensure better diagnosis and treatment, said Professor Cousins.

MBF Chief Medical Officer and chair of the MBF Foundation Steering Committee, Dr Christine Bennett, said persistent pain is one of the three biggest health problems of the new millennium, along with diabetes and asthma, but its impact is still to be fully understood.

Around a million Australians who might normally enjoy productive working lives struggle with persistent pain with substantial interference to their daily lives that can be so extreme that it can sometimes result in suicidal thoughts or actions, said Dr Bennett.

Professor Cousins said there has been an explosion of knowledge about persistent pain and its treatment over the past 10 years, yet it remains under-treated or untreated for many reasons.

It is now possible to manage persistent pain in 70-80 per cent of patients yet fewer than 10 per cent actually obtain pain relief, he said.

Federal and Sta
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Contact: Jackie Crossman
61-402-218-662
Research Australia
9-Aug-2007


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