New Florida Coalition to Advocate for Better Pain Management

Healthcare Professionals and Other Advocates for Pain Patients Say

Florida Policymakers Cannot Afford to Ignore Chronic Pain Crisis

Mar 10, 2005, 00:00 ET from Florida Pain Initiative

    GAINESVILLE, Fla., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- An epidemic of pain grips the
 state of Florida and demands attention from health care policymakers in
 Tallahassee, advocates for chronic pain sufferers say after holding the
 inaugural meeting of the Florida Pain Coalition Monday in Orlando.  Organizers
 say they are forming the coalition to speak in a unified voice on topics
 affecting pain patients and the professionals who care for them.
     The meeting at Orlando Regional Hospital was organized by the Florida Pain
 Initiative (FPI) and included representatives of more than a dozen statewide
 associations, including: American Cancer Society, Florida Nurses Association,
 Florida Pharmacy Association, Florida Society of Anesthesiologists, Florida
 Academy of Pain Medicine, and the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative
     "We cannot afford to have policy makers continue to ignore this
 significant health care problem," says the University of Florida professor
 Robert P. Yezierski, Ph.D. and director of the Comprehensive Center for Pain
 Research.  "The substantial psychological, sociological and economic impact of
 undertreated pain in this state demands that Florida take action now," he
     Yezierski, who serves as president of FPI, says the goals of the newly
 formed coalition include increasing awareness of the far-reaching economic and
 psychosocial impact of chronic pain, and to help encourage legislative action
 to help make pain a priority health care issue in the state.  FPI commissioned
 a statewide survey that found four out of five Florida households had a member
 who experienced chronic pain and more than a third of the sufferers described
 their pain as moderate to severe.
     "We have a unique opportunity to send a message to the people of Florida
 that pain management is an important healthcare priority," says Yezierski.
 "By combining resources of professional associations and consumer
 organizations who are dedicated to finding more effective strategies of pain
 management as well as meeting the challenges of delivering these strategies,
 we have a chance to impact the quality of life of more than five million
 people in our state who are directly or indirectly affected by the condition
 of chronic pain."
     "The number of individuals suffering from pain is of greater magnitude
 than those suffering from heart disease and cancer combined," Yezierski
 continues.  "And it's not only a growing health concern, pain is impacting the
 state's economy through lost productivity in the work place, disability
 payments and costs associated with insurance claims.  The direct and indirect
 costs to the state of Florida are estimated to total hundreds of millions of
 dollars annually."
     Floridians are substantially more likely to suffer from chronic or
 recurrent pain than the national average according to the Florida Pain Survey
 conducted last fall.  In Florida, 75 percent of respondents said they suffer
 pain on at least a monthly basis compared to 57 percent of Americans who
 responded similarly in a recently released national survey.
     Among other findings, those suffering with pain reported pain:
     * Causes them to feel anxious, irritable or depressed (65 percent)
     * Interferes with their ability to work and be productive (42 percent)
     * Prevents them from doing some of the things they once enjoyed
      (62 percent)
     * Causes them to lose sleep (61 percent)
     * Sometimes leaves them feeling hopeless and/or alone (25 percent)
     * Interferes with their sexual relations (25 percent)
     * Interferes with their ability to do everyday things (23 percent)
     * Has negatively affected their relationships with loved ones and friends
      (20 percent)
     The Florida Pain Survey also suggests considerable numbers of pain
 sufferers are not being effectively treated.  One in five pain sufferers has
 not seen a physician, and among all Floridians a majority agree that people do
 not seek treatment because they believe the pain will go away by itself, they
 are embarrassed and don't want to seem like they are complaining, or they
 don't know where to go for help.
     The good news is that most pain can be relieved through proper medications
 and other treatments, which is an important message in FPI's efforts,
 according to Dr. Jennifer Strickland, past-president of FPI.
     On the other hand, she says, there are a number of barriers to overcome
 that prevent effective pain treatment, including a shortage of clinics
 specializing in pain management, inadequate training in pain management by
 healthcare professionals and concerns over the appropriate use of effective
 pain medications.
     "As the survey showed, there is also a stigma associated with pain,"
 Strickland explains.  Many people with pain are fearful or embarrassed to let
 their families, friends and even their physicians know they are in pain
 because they don't want to appear weak or believe pain is just something you
 need to accept."
     The Florida Pain Survey was underwritten by the American Pain Foundation
 (APF) and the American Alliance for Cancer Pain Initiatives (AACPI).  APF and
 AACPI are national partners in the "Power Over Pain" campaign, a statewide
 project of the Florida Pain Initiative in collaboration with the Florida
 Division of the American Cancer Society.

SOURCE Florida Pain Initiative