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US needs new strategy to help 116 million patients in chronic pain

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d4206 (Published 01 July 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d4206
  1. Bob Roehr
  1. 1Washington, DC

A new report from the US Institute of Medicine calls for “a cultural transformation” in the way chronic pain is viewed, treated, and researched. The report says that it is a public health challenge needing an overarching strategy and prompt, sustained action.

At least one in three US adults, an estimated 116 million people, suffer from chronic pain—more than the sum total of the number of people with heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. The annual economic burden is as much as $635bn (£400bn; €440bn) in medical treatment and lost productivity, shows an analysis conducted for the report.

But the figures may be underestimated, because of poor data collection and …

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