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Assessment of chronic pain and access to pain therapy: a cross-sectional population-based study

Authors Del Giorno R, Frumento P, Varrassi G, Paladini A, Coaccioli S

Received 6 March 2017

Accepted for publication 26 July 2017

Published 6 November 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 2577—2584


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Katherine Hanlon

Rosaria Del Giorno,1 Paolo Frumento,2 Giustino Varrassi,3 Antonella Paladini,3 Stefano Coaccioli1,4

1Department of Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Medical Pain Therapy, “Santa Maria” General Hospital, Terni, Italy; 2Unit of Biostatistics, Institute of Environmental Medicine (IMM), Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden; 3Department of MESVA, University of L’Aquila. L’Aquila, Italy; 4Department of Internal Medicine, Perugia University School of Medicine, Perugia, Italy

Background: Chronic pain (CP) has been shown as an important public health problem, and several studies emphasize the need to strengthen the health care and social systems to reduce its marginalization. This study aimed to: evaluate the epidemiology of CP in the general population in an Italian area; and assess the awareness of a specific law, unanimously approved in Parliament, which provides citizens the right to access pain management ­(Italian Law 38/2010).
Methods: A cross-sectional population-based study carried out during the spring of 2014 at Narni, Umbria, Italy. All the citizens residing in that area, aged >18, were enrolled in the study. Outcome measures were: prevalence of CP and therapies. The awareness of the Italian Law 38/2010 was also recorded.
Results: Data of 1293 questionnaires were analyzed. The prevalence of CP was 28.4%. In 51.5% of cases, pain was severe, with higher prevalence in females (p<0.001). Moreover, pain was generally increasing with age (p<0.001). The risk of suffering from severe pain was modeled using logistic regression. Significant predictors were female gender (OR 2.59; 95% CI: 1.77–3.79), living in an urban area (OR 0.63; 95% CI 0.45–0.88), and age (OR 1.06; 95% CI: 1.04–1.08). Among people with CP, 77.9% were receiving therapy; the proportion of individuals in therapy for severe pain significantly increased with age (OR 1.03; 95% CI: 1.02–1.05) and was smaller in individuals with light pain (OR 0.21; 95% CI: 0.07–0.66). The majority of subjects (61.9%) are not aware of the existence of a specific law stating their rights to receive pain management.
Conclusion: CP, at least in the rural part of the community investigated in Italy, is not perceived as a chronic disease in its own right. A socio-cultural transformation in patients and in the health care system seems necessary.

Keywords: cross-sectional study, chronic pain, palliative care, pain therapy, pain control

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