The Impact of the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Patients' Perceptions of Chronic Pain

J Pain Res. 2021 Aug 21;14:2571-2581. doi: 10.2147/JPR.S323568. eCollection 2021.

Abstract

Purpose: On 10 March 2020, Greece entered an increasingly restrictive 42-day lockdown, in order to contain the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. All scheduled appointments and activities of the pain clinics around the country were postponed indefinitely. The aim of this prospective study was to assess the perceived impact of the first wave of the pandemic on pain, quality of life, and access to treatment, during the first austere lockdown in Greece.

Patients and methods: In this cross-sectional study, 101 patients suffering from chronic pain completed a structured questionnaire. Levels of depression, anxiety, stress, personal wellbeing, optimism and personality traits were also evaluated, using the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS42), the Ten Item Personality Index (TIPI), the Life Orientation Test-Revised (GrLOT-R) and the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI).

Results: Despite the dramatic decrease in health care visitations before, during and after the imposed lockdown, most patients did not feel that access to pain physicians and medication was significantly affected. Higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, neuroticism, openness to experience and general satisfaction with life seemed to be important determinant factors in how patients experienced their level, intensity and duration of pain, quality of life and response to medication.

Conclusion: The effects of the lockdown had a more severe impact on patients than the pandemic itself. For most, the level of their pain was not affected by the pandemic and was affected only slightly by the lockdown. Quality of life, however, was affected formost participants. Both the necessity and the complications of introducing the use of telemedicine to Greek chronic pain patients became evident during the study.

Keywords: COVID-19 psychosocial implications; healthcare access; quality of life; telemedicine.

Grant support

This research received no external funding.