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The “Moral Imperative” of Treating People with Chronic Pain –Challenges, Impediments, & Opportunities

Speaker  Dennis Turk

Affiliation  University of Washington School of Medicine

Host  Ran Gilad Bachrach

Duration  01:27:41

Date recorded  29 March 2013

Chronic pain is a prevalent problem with significant costs to individuals and society. According to estimates in the recent report of the Institute of Medicine (IOM), 100 million American adults have some form of chronic pain. Chronic pain is a common occurrence among children and adolescents, as well, affecting up to 25% of all children. This makes chronic pain more common than heart disease, diabetes, and cancer combined. Because of the direct health care costs and indirect costs (e.g., disability payments, lost productivity) associated with chronic pain, it is also exceedingly expensive for society with the total cost of chronic pain to the US economy estimated to range between 560 and 630 billion annually. The astronomical figures cited mask the incalculable impact of pain on individuals experiencing pain and their significant others. Unfortunately, the currently available medical, pharmacological, and surgical treatments for patients with chronic pain are inadequate and only moderately effective, at best. Thus, there is an urgent need to address the negative effects of chronic pain, including its marked costs and significant social impact, what the IOM asserts is a “moral imperative”. Given the magnitude of the problem, the modest benefits from traditional medical, pharmacological, and surgical treatments, there is a growing realization of the importance of involving patients in self-management of their symptoms and their lives. During this presentation I will provide an overview of the current status of pain and pain management, outline barriers to disability prevention and rehabilitation, and describe opportunities that can greatly benefit from integration of currently available and developing technological applications to overcome some of the existing impediments.

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