The Poor Treatment of Chronic Pain Patients

The Poor Treatment of Chronic Pain Patients

Chronic pain is described as a persistent or recurring pain in multiple areas of the body lasting for at least three months (Collier, R. 2018). Regardless of the cause being idiopathic or a result of injury, chronic pain is undertreated and suffers from a lack of education and research – treatment often does not go past the original injury or trauma. It is said that chronic pain affects as much as half of the population of the UK – as many as 28 million adults (Fayaz, A. et al,. 2016). The quality of life experienced by chronic pain patients is often much lower than those who do not experience this type of pain, and has been known to be comorbid with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety (Thomas, E.E. et al. 2003). The substandard treatment by medical professionals, including delegitimation of their conditions, has been shown to negatively impact quality of treatment and quality of life (Ware, N. 1992). The Poor Treatment of Chronic Pain Patients

It is well documented that living with chronic pain will, in some way or another, have detrimental effects on how a person is able to live their life. For some, these effects can be minimal and are well managed, however in more extreme scenarios the effects of chronic pain can be disabling (Lame, I.E. et al. 2005). These effects are often more severe in women, who also tend to experience lower general health than men who partook in the studies examined. It is also exceedingly common for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety to be comorbid with chronic pain conditions, especially in patients who have multiple localisations of pain. A study carried out in 2003 found that, of the 242 patients studied, 52% were found to have Major Depressive Disorder, 35% were found to have Minor Depression, and only 14% were found to have no depression (Thomas, E.E. et al. 2003). Knowing this, it can be said that the quality of life in chronic pain patients is not only affected by their pain levels, but by the mental health conditions that often come along with experiencing chronic pain. The Poor Treatment of Chronic Pain Patients




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A common complaint from those who experience chronic pain is that they do not feel listened to by their doctors. Norma Ware describes this phenomenon as delegitimation, “the experience of having one’s perceptions of an illness systematically disconfirmed” (Ware, N. 1992). In a literature review published in the British Journal of Nursing, it was found that although being believed had an important psychological and emotional impact on patients, it was more likely for healthcare professionals to make patients feel their pain was imaginary – or at the very least greatly exaggerated (Clarke, C.A. et al. 2005). This same review also found that, in instances where healthcare professionals displayed a clear belief in the patients self-reported pain, a positive rapport was able to be established between patient and carer. A separate review published in Pain Management Nursing highlighted the negative impact not being believed had on patients’ experiences of stigma, isolation, and emotional distress (Newton, B.J. et al. 2013).The Poor Treatment of Chronic Pain Patients


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