Association between pain severity and health care resource use, health status, productivity and related costs in painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy patients

Pain Med. 2011 May;12(5):799-807. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01103.x. Epub 2011 Apr 11.


Objective: Research has shown that painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (pDPN) is associated with worse health outcomes. However, among pDPN patients, few studies have examined the relationship between the severity of pain and health outcomes.

Design: The current project included pDPN patients (N=1506) from the 2006, 2007, and 2008 waves of the National Health and Wellness Survey.

Outcome measures: Health status (Short Form [SF]-12), work productivity (Work Productivity and Activity Impairment questionnaire), and health care resource use in the past 6 months were compared among pDPN patients with mild, moderate, and severe pain, adjusting for demographics and clinical characteristics.

Results: More than half (51.2%) of the patients reported their pain as severe, 45.2% reported moderate pain, and 3.7% reported mild pain. Those with severe pain reported significantly lower levels of health status, higher levels of work and activity impairment, and higher levels of resource use relative to the other groups. Annual per-patient costs for those with severe pain were $12,856, $3927, and $16,783 for direct, indirect, and total costs, respectively. Both direct and total costs were significantly higher in this group relative to both mild and moderate pain patients.

Conclusions: These results suggest that pain severity contributes substantially to the health outcomes of pDPN patients and that greater resources should be allocated to the management of patients with severe pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / economics*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology
  • Efficiency*
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Health Resources / economics
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / economics*
  • Pain / economics*
  • Work