A study published online last month in Pain Practice offers a fresh assessment of the burden to the healthcare system imposed by chronic pain conditions. Researchers from Pfizer Inc. examined medical records and claims from 12,165 patients at the Henry Ford Health Care System to assess the overall cost and demand for resources triggered by 24 different chronic pain conditions during calendar year 2010. The summary conclusion of the study: treating chronic pain costs some $32,000 per patient per year.
Except for pharmacy visits, the most used resource were outpatient visits, at a mean 18.8 visits per patient. Of these 59% represented specialty consultations. Chronic pain complaints resulted in a mean of 5.2 discrete imaging tests per patient. Almost 39% of patients were prescribed opioid medication for their condition. Musculoskeletal conditions were associated with the highest overall costs. The study team concluded, "This type of research supports integrated delivery systems as a source for assessing opportunities to improve patient outcomes and lower the costs for chronic pain patients."
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A news story, with link to the journal abstract, may be read here.