Societal Impact of Pain (SIP)

policy recommendations 2017

The organizing partners of the SIP platform formulated during the SIP 2017 Symposium in June 2017 in Malta the following key recommendations directed at the institutions of the European Union and national governments:

  1. Establish an EU platform on the societal impact of pain
    The European Commission should follow up on commitments made by national governments at the informal Council of EU Health Ministers in Milan, 22 September 2014, to establish an EU platform on pain, facilitating comparison and benchmarking of best practices between member states.
  1. Instruments to assess the societal impact of pain
    National health authorities should define, establish or use instruments and indicators to measure the societal impact of pain. This should be done through the creation of national data registries and a push for this data to be shared at a European level. To do this, national governments and health authorities should establish quality indicators to set criteria for granting access to cross-border healthcare and ensuring that electronic health records take note of pain.
  1. Initiate policies addressing the impact of pain on employment
    The European Commission and national governments should work together to promote policies that reflect the link between pain care and employment. This should be recognised at both EU and national levels, through a push for greater interconnection between ministries and services dealing with health, employment, research, and social protection policies and systems. Better understanding of these interconnections would allow for greater efficiencies in pain management, helping patients access the treatment they need to continue being active in the work place. National plans should also encourage enforcement of existing national legislation requiring reasonable, flexible workplace adjustments by employers that can help people with chronic pain stay in work or reintegrate into the workforce.
  1. Prioritise pain within education for health care professionals, patients and the general public
    National governments and health authorities should initiate patient education programmes and information campaigns in order to create public awareness of the short and long-term consequences of inadequate access to pain treatment for pain symptoms. The aim of these programmes should be to reduce stigma and increase self-management of pain. National governments should also promote wider access to pain education among the healthcare profession, including all those who see and treat pain.
  1. Increase investment in research on the Societal Impact of Pain
    The European Commission and national governments should increase investment in research (basic science, clinical, epidemiological) on the societal impact of pain as a priority in future EU framework programmes and make funds available via employment and health policy research programmes.The OECD and European Commission should also, in their upcoming edition of Health at a Glance: Europe 2018, present pain as a key indicator of health and health systems analysing the links between population health and labour market Outcomes.