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
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
* 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
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
"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