"Persistent pain is one of the most costly healthcare problems in Australia with one in five Australian adults suffering from the condition. The human cost on individuals and families is also significant since many of these Australians bear more than half the cost themselves. Now that we know the cost of pain, we can take positive steps towards improving the lives of Australians living with persistent pain." Dr Christine Bennett Chair, Medical Advisory Panel, Bupa Australia
The Bupa Health Foundation (formerly the MBF Foundation), in collaboration with the University of Sydney's Pain Medicine Research Institute (PMRI), commissioned Access Economics to determine the cost of persistent pain. Although we believed it was important for an enormous number of people, until now there's been no data on the broader impact or cost of pain.
The result was the Bupa Health Foundation's landmark report The High Price of Pain.
The report drew on research that shows about one in five Australian adults suffer from persistent pain. This translates into 36.5 million lost work days per year, making it one of the most costly healthcare problems in Australia.
The human cost on individuals and families is just as significant.
The Bupa Health Foundation and PMRI believe that once we know the cost of pain, we can show why it needs to be a higher national health priority. A national response to the problem could then be coordinated.
Findings from the study will be used to identify the best ways to effectively manage the condition. Not only will this save healthcare dollars, it will also help patients achieve more productive, enjoyable lives.
The report revealed that the annual cost of pain is a massive $34.3 billion. This is nearly $11,000 for each of the estimated 3.2 million people who live with almost daily persistent pain.
The study also found that people with persistent pain have to bear more than half the financial cost themselves.
It also suggested that a big chunk of the $7 billion spent directly by the health system could be saved if pain was better managed.
A third of people can't identify an event that caused their pain.
Pain can result in sleep deprivation, depression, irritability, fatigue and can also affect personal and social relationships.
Pain also has a significant impact on a person's ability to work. This imposes real costs on the economy and the individual.
Access Economics. The high price of pain: the economic impact of persistent pain in Australia. Nov 2007. Report available here. [bupa health foundation_pain report_nov07.pdf]
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