Purpose: The Canadian STOP-PAIN Project assessed the human and economic burden of chronic pain in individuals on waitlists of Multidisciplinary Pain Treatment Facilities (MPTF). This article presents the patients' bio-psycho-social profile.
Methods: A sample of 728 patients was recruited from waitlists of eight university-affiliated MPTFs across Canada. Subjects completed validated questionnaires to: 1) assess the characteristics and impact of their pain; and 2) evaluate their emotional functioning and quality of life (QoL). Follow-up questionnaires were completed by a subgroup of 271 patients three months later.
Results: Close to 2/3 of the participants reported severe pain (> or = 7/10) that interfered substantially with various aspects of their daily living and QoL. Severe or extremely severe levels of depression were common (50.0%) along with suicidal ideation (34.6%). Patients aged > 60 yr were twice as likely to experience severe pain (> or = 7/10) as their younger counterparts (P = 0.002). Patients with frequent sleep problems were more at risk of reporting severe pain (P < or = 0.003). Intense pain was also associated with a greater tendency to catastrophize (P < 0.0001) severe depressive symptoms (P = 0.003) and higher anger levels (P = 0.016). Small but statistically significant changes in pain intensity and emotional distress were observed over a three-month wait time (all P < 0.05).
Conclusion: This study highlights the severe impairment that patients experience waiting for treatment in MPTFs. Knowing that current facilities cannot meet the clinical demand, it is clear that effective prevention/treatment strategies are needed earlier in primary and secondary care settings to minimize suffering and chronicity.