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Counting The Cost Of Chronic Pain: An Analysis Of Intensive Service Users

Listed author(s):
  • Brenda Gannon


    (Academic Unit of Health Economics, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds)

  • Edel Smith

    (Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

  • Grace McNally

    (Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

  • David P. Finn

    (Pharmacology and Therapeutics, School ofMedicine, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

  • Chris Noone

    (School of Psychology, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

  • David O’Gorman

    (Centre for Pain Research, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

  • Nancy Ruane

    (Centre for Pain Research, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

  • Brian E. McGuire

    (Centre for Pain Research, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

Chronic pain is pain that persists for longer than 3 months: it affects between 13% - 36% of the Irish population. The current cost of pain study was carried out in the context of the increasing need for transparency in health expenditure and allocation of scarce resources. Previous international research has considered the costs for chronic pain sufferers but not for those who require a higher level of resources. The aim of the present study was to collect data on the economic cost of chronic pain among patients attending one Regional Pain Clinic in Ireland. Data were collected from 100 patients and focused on direct and indirect costs of chronic pain. The Client Service Receipt Inventory for Pain was adapted for the purposes of our study. Patients were questioned about health service utilization, payment methods and relevant socio-demographics. Unit costs were multiplied by resource use data to obtain full costs. Our results indicate that, on average, direct costs are over €3,000 per patient annually for use of hospital inpatient services. Average outpatient costs were €1,376 per patient. Total direct costs were €736,950 in the previous 12 months and included many direct medical costs, some extra requirements such as home adaptations and health insurance costs. Indirect societal costs are also substantial amounting to €898,290 including lost productivity due to days off work, disability benefits and informal carers days off work. The average cost of chronic pain (direct and indirect) was €16,352 per patient over a 12 month period. In conclusion, the societal cost of chronic pain is significant, particulaiy for those who are the high end users and attend chronic pain clinics. The data generated may be of use to health service managers when considering resource allocation.

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File Function: First version, 2011
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Paper provided by Academic Unit of Health Economics, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds in its series Working Papers with number 1108.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 2011
Handle: RePEc:lee:wpaper:1108
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  1. Christian Kronborg & Gitte Handberg & Flemming Axelsen, 2009. "Health care costs, work productivity and activity impairment in non-malignant chronic pain patients," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 10(1), pages 5-13, February.
  2. Phillips, Ceri & Main, Chris & Buck, Rhiannon & Aylward, Mansel & Wynne-Jones, Gwenllian & Farr, Angela, 2008. "Prioritising pain in policy making: The need for a whole systems perspective," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 88(2-3), pages 166-175, December.
  3. Burton A. Weisbrod, 1961. "The Valuation of Human Capital," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 69, pages 425-425.
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