Survey Results

Why did we do a survey?

Chronic pain continues to be a widespread problem in Europe, affecting 1 in 5 adults, according to the Pain in Europe survey.1

Chronic pain is classified as pain that persists or progresses over a long period of time (usually stated as over 3 months)2 and may range in intensity from mild, to moderate, to severe. Chronic pain may remain constant, or it can fluctuate, but it will be present to some degree for long periods of time.

People with chronic pain have been suffering for 7 years on average, with one-third experiencing pain at all times. The impact on quality of life can be devastating with 1 in 5 having lost a job as a result of their pain.1

Often patients are not receiving the appropriate treatment and support. This can be due to a number of reasons, such as:

  • Lack of relevant knowledge among GPs on how to effectively manage pain, including side-effects of some treatments.
  • Patients can find it difficult to verbalise their pain to effectively convey their condition to their GP.
  • The experience of pain is highly subjective.

When left untreated, pain can cause helplessness, depression, isolation, family breakdown and unnecessary disability. The majority of those suffering from chronic pain do not attend hospitals.3

The new survey, entitled PainSTORY (Pain Study Tracking Ongoing Responses for a Year), is the first of its kind to track the impact of ongoing chronic pain on patients’ lives over the course of a year, and involved 294 patients in 13 European countries.

The PainSTORY survey results reveal the impact of chronic pain on patients’ daily lives and offer insights into pain management pathways. The results show that chronic pain is severely underestimated, with pain affecting every aspect of patients’ lives.

Commenting on the findings of the survey, Hans Kress, President Elect, European Federation of Chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain said, “This research presents a unique insight into patients’ year-long journey through pain. It is shocking to observe that after 12 months, patients are still trapped in an ongoing cycle of pain and a large proportion seem to be accepting the severe impact their pain has on their lives, and losing hope”.


1. Pain in Europe.

2. International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) Task Force on Taxonomy. Classification of chronic pain. Descriptions of chronic pain syndromes and definitions of pain terms. 2nd ed. Merskey H, Bogduk N, editors. Seattle: IASP Press; 1994.

3. Clinical Standards Advisory Group. Services for patients with pain. Chapter 2. 2000.