Chronic pain impacts productivity, absenteeism at work: Survey

Young workers most affected

Chronic pain is having a severe impact in the workplace, according to an Angus Reid national survey. The survey was conducted for the Canadian Pain Society, a coalition of health professionals and researchers, and found that moderate-to-severe chronic pain is hitting the economy in lost productivity and absenteeism. In the past three months, nearly one-third of the 1,000 Canadians surveyed reported having suffered a loss of income, booked off sick days, experienced a reduction in workplace productivity and responsibility or even lost their jobs as a result of their pain.

Twenty-three per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34 reported missing work days due to pain — more than any other age group surveyed. One in five within this demographic said they experienced a loss in productivity at work because of pain. In addition, 15 per cent of those in this age bracket said they had suffered a loss of income as a result of pain — higher than the national average of 11 per cent.

“This national survey shows that pain doesn’t just hurt Canadian patients; it hurts Canada’s economy,” said Mary Lynch, president of the Canadian Pain Society. “As health professionals and researchers, we’re calling for a national pain strategy that involves co-ordinating resources, increasing education and improving pain treatment for all Canadians. It’s time to treat pain for what it really is — a growing health crisis.”

A National Health Population survey estimated that chronic pain costs Canadians approximately $14,744 per affected person per year. Estimates place direct health care costs for Canada at more than $6 billion per year for individuals suffering from chronic pain. By 2025, these costs are expected to rise to more than $10 billion per year, said the Canadian Pain Society.

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