SIP Presents: An Interview with Professor Roberto Perez

Aachen, Germany 13th December 2016

The Dutch Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport and the Minister of Economic Affairs signed a “Health Deal on Chronic Pain” together with pain- and revalidation centers and the pain patient association. Our article on the health deal is available here.


Societal Impact of Pain: Could you explain what the chronic pain health deal is?


Professor Roberto Perez: The health deal is an agreement between various stakeholders operating within the context of health care, i.e. patient organisations, health care institutions, academia, commercial parties and the ministries of health and economic affairs, drawn up with the goal to stimulate development of innovative ideas that can contribute to sustainable and cost efficient solutions to reduce the individual and societal burden of chronic pain in the Netherlands. Different lines of actions have been formulated such as the formation of living labs, improvement of e-health solutions and scientific research.


SIP: What makes this deal especially important?


RP: The importance of this initiative lies in the acknowledgement it represents from various stakeholders, including the government, that chronic pain is a significant health care problem, and provides an incentive for development of initiatives to improve care for chronic pain patients, such as (but not limited to) the development of care standards, best practices, and solutions for coordination within the different Dutch regions. Furthermore, it provides a basis for continuity for an important initiative of the Dutch Pain Society and collaborating patient organisations, namely the comprehensive guideline for chronic pain.


This guideline represent current ideas described on a functional level about the theoretical model within which chronic pain should be understood (i.e. the bio-psycho-social perspective) and provides building blocks for the different steps required for optimal chronic pain care (prevention, diagnosis and management). The perspective of the guideline is at its core multidimensional and multidisciplinary.  The guideline is both evidence based, and describes the ideal situation of the way chronic pain should be viewed and pain care should be organized. The health deal is in essence an elaboration of this guideline.


SIP: Why is it relevant for patients and patient organisations?


RP: Patients, represented by the co-operating pain patient organisations, are both a partner in the health deal as well as the comprehensive guideline of chronic pain. The involvement of the patient in improving health care is clear.


SIP: How does it relate to the goals of SIP?


RP: In a number of ways, as with the SIP initiative, it calls for increased awareness for the burden of chronic pain, and activates patients and relatives to be involved in the management of pain. Both the health deal and the comprehensive guideline for chronic pain are manners to spark policy strategies and private initiatives to improve health care for chronic pain patients.


SIP: Do you think this could serve as a model for other countries?


RP: There are already some parallels with initiatives in other countries, such as Italy, Portugal and Spain. It differs from initiatives such as in Denmark where dedicated funding has been made available, this is not (yet) the case in the Netherlands (for chronic pain). The guideline and the process of endorsement (involving professional societies and patient organisations) could be used in other counties with necessary adaptation with regard to the requirements for local organization of care.


Dr. Roberto S.G.M. Perez is a Professor of Pain Research, Pain Therapy and Palliative Care in the Department of Anesthesiology at the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands.


Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) Website Editor

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