Why You Should Ask for More from Your Doctors

Recent survey shows room for improvement in patient-provider relationships when managing chronic pain.

HealthyWomen, a nonprofit health information source, recently shared highlights from its survey of just over 1,000 women who live with chronic pain. Survey participants included women who have experienced persistent or recurring pain for more than three months (that is, chronic pain).

Of those surveyed, 90% had received a diagnosis for the cause of their pain and 48% reported using opioids to help treat their pain. Beyond opioids, other common pain management methods used by those surveyed included:  other prescription medications, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen, and physiotherapy.

Below are a few additional statistics from the survey:

  • 36% of respondents said they do not think their healthcare provider (HCP) takes their pain seriously while 45% believe their provider is “somewhat understanding,” and 17% say their HCP is not understanding.
  • 62% of women reported that they sometimes feel hopeless and/or helpless about their pain, while 35% said they always feel hopeless and/or helpless.
  • Nearly all of those surveyed—95%—reported that their pain affects their ability to live a full and active life. And more than half (53%) said their pain interferes with their sleep.
  • 38% of respondents feel that they do not have access to enough information about pain.

Looking ahead, the women surveyed said they would like to see pain management include:

  • adequately trained providers (65%)
  • support from HCP (58%)
  • availability of resources (56%).

Asking your doctor to be more transparent about your chronic pain condition is okay. (Image: 123RF)

“As a practicing healthcare professional, I am not surprised to learn that women place ‘adequately trained providers’ at the top of their list when it comes to pain management,” says HealthyWomen CEO Beth Battaglino, RN. “When it comes to diagnosis, treatment and management of pain, there is always more to learn. This is especially true when it comes to chronic pain, particularly when it’s not linked to something visible or related to a diagnosis like cancer.”

“Equally important, too,” added Ms. Battaglino, “is training related to sex and gender differences in how pain is felt by men versus women — and thus, how it should be managed and treated, patient by patient. Our summit, which brought together researchers, clinicians, industry experts and patients living with chronic pain, featured new research being done to understand chronic pain in women as well as new educational resources available to patients to help them better understand their pain management options."

“And yet, we know that during medical appointments, women are given very limited time to share their concerns with their health care providers. Meanwhile, for healthcare providers, it can be overwhelming to know what questions to ask and what conditions to focus on when it comes to treating chronic pain. As a result, a disconnect remains. Our goal is to inform and educate women to ask the right questions of their healthcare providers, make informed healthcare choices and advocate for themselves to live and age well.”

What would you like to see change in pain management provider-patient relationships? Email ppmeditorial@remedyhealthmedia.com.

HealthyWomen held a Chronic Pain in Women Summit in July 2019 in Ellicott City, MD. See PPM’s coverage of the event, with more to come in the next few weeks. 

 

 

 

 

Updated on: 07/26/19
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