Purpose: The Canadian STOP-PAIN Project was designed to document the human and economic burden of chronic pain in individuals on waitlists of Multidisciplinary Pain Treatment Facilities (MPTF). This paper describes the societal costs of their pain.
Methods: A subgroup of 370 patients was selected randomly from The Canadian STOP-PAIN Project. Participants completed a self-administered costing tool (the Ambulatory and Home Care Record) on a daily basis for three months. They provided information about publicly financed resources, such as health care professional consultations and diagnostic tests as well as privately financed costs, including out-of-pocket expenditures and time devoted to seeking, receiving, and providing care. To determine the cost of care, resources were valued using various costing methods, and multivariate linear regression was used to predict total cost.
Results: Overall, the median monthly cost of care was $1,462 (CDN) per study participant. Ninety-five percent of the total expenditures were privately financed. The final regression model consisted of the following determinants: educational level, employment status, province, pain duration, depression, and health-related quality of life. This model accounted for 35% of the variance in total expenditure (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: The economic burden of chronic pain is substantial in patients on waitlists of MPTFs. Consequently, it is essential to consider this burden when making decisions regarding resource allocation and waitlist assignment for a MPTF. Resource allocation decision-making should include the economic implications of having patients wait for an assessment and for care.