One in six Swiss suffers chronic pain

One in six Swiss suffers from chronic pain Keystone

A new European study has shown that chronic pain is a widespread problem in Switzerland, affecting one person in six.

This content was published on November 4, 2003 - 21:39

The study commissioned by the pharmaceutical industry also found that a third of chronic pain sufferers in Switzerland find it hard to cope.

The “Pain in Europe” survey interviewed 46,000 people in 16 countries and found that one in five Europeans suffered constant pain.

By comparison, 16 per cent of Swiss claimed to suffer the condition.

Dr Markus Felder, a specialist in chronic pain, was surprised by the figures, which also showed that the Swiss are not as well informed about pain therapy as their European neighbours.

“We have to find out why we are less well informed than our German neighbours for example. It could be because GPs do not take enough time to talk to their patients,” Felder told swissinfo.

More training

“Junior doctors in Switzerland should receive more training in pain therapy. At the moment they do not get enough training in chronic pain,” added Felder.

Another surprising finding of the study, which was released in Bern on Tuesday, was that 43 per cent of Swiss in pain feel helpless, compared with only 26 per cent in Germany.

“Nobody talks very much about pain in Switzerland. People hold back, maybe they think there will be consequences when they say they are taking medication,” Uwe Freisens, of the NFO World Group that carried out the study, told swissinfo.

The survey also showed that 34 per cent of Swiss with chronic pain suffer from rheumatism and arthritis, with 25 per cent suffering the consequences of a slipped disk.

Old people

The study also defied the widespread assumption that it is mainly old people who complain about being in pain - nearly 19 per cent of all sufferers are between 18 and 30 years old, whereas the average age of those affected is 48.

It also revealed that 16 per cent have lost their jobs as a consequence of constant pain.

“It affects nearly every part of your daily life. The most severe consequence is depression and in Switzerland 19 per cent of chronic pain sufferers have been diagnosed with it,” Freisens told swissinfo.

The survey found that with nearly one in three sufferers, the highest prevalence of chronic pain occurs in Norway, closely followed by Poland and Italy.

swissinfo, Billi Bierling

Key facts

Sixteen per cent of all Swiss are affected by chronic pain.
More women than men suffer from the condition.
On average sufferers live with their pain for about eight years.
Rheumatism and arthritis are the most common causes of pain.

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