Joop van Griensven
President, Pain Alliance Europe
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected people living with chronic pain just like everyone else. Now, a new, in-depth survey, has found that there are other noteworthy points to consider.1
Pain Alliance Europe (PAE) conducted a survey in seven European countries to further explore the consequences of this pandemic for people living with chronic pain. In the recently published short report, the first results are given. Some of the most disturbing facts were:
- One in two had a ‘worse’ to ‘much worse’ pain intensity.
- One out of two had a ‘worse’ to ‘much worse’ quality of sleep.
- Two out of three reported their mood was ‘worse’ to ‘much worse.’
- Three out of five had ‘somewhat’ to ‘a great deal’ of pain interference in their lives.
- Almost three out of 10 had no one to speak to about their problems, nine out of 10 stated their social life was disrupted.
Adopting a holistic approach
Earlier research publications have shown that the treatment of chronic pain needs a holistic approach, according to the bio-psycho-social model.
We know from the pandemic that the pressure on the healthcare systems across Europe is huge. This means that regular services have been put on hold or even cancelled. The PAE survey shows that the psychological and social aspect of patients’ lives has been negatively influenced.
This digital transformation can be used as a tool but may never replace the personal contact between HCP and patient.
The impact of the results
The overall quality of life of people living with chronic pain decreased by 22% to an average low of 5.15 on a scale of 0-10.
This is one part of the problem. Another aspect is that we have seen that some patients who recover from the COVID-19 virus develop a chronic pain condition. This also requires an adjustment of the treatment options to a more holistic approach.
We have seen that during the pandemic, digital healthcare has been increasingly adopted by health care physicians (HCP). The European Union wishes to implement these sorts of changes in the different national health care systems.
HCPs, governments, politicians, insurance companies may assume that all patients are able to or want to see their treatment given digitally without face-to-face contact. However, they cannot just assume this. This digital transformation can be used as a tool but may never replace the personal contact between HCP and patient.
We have seen that a holistic approach and social interaction is essential. We also see that psychological support is important. This is asking for in-depth personal contact between HCP and patient to establish what is the best possible solution for that individual depending on his or her circumstances.