National Initiatives Austria

In this section, national initiatives which have been set up in Austria can be found. 

2017: Quality assurance of pain care in Austria

Jaksch, W., Likar, R., Folkes, E. et al. Wien Med Wochenschr (2017). doi:10.1007/s10354-017-0563-5

In Austria there is no nationwide coverage of pain management, which meets even approximately international criteria. At present there are about 30 interdisciplinary pain management offices and clinics providing care according to a concept of the Austrian Pain Society (ÖSG), about 10 other outpatient pain clinics are located in district and country hospitals. A few years ago, there still were about 50 pain clinics. Yet closure of outpatient clinics and cost-cutting measures in the health sector jeopardize adequate pain relief for patients with chronic pain conditions.

Hence, the supply of care for approx. 1.8 mio. Austrians with chronic pain is not guaranteed due to lack of a comprehensive demand planning of pain care facilities. Furthermore, existing structures such as specialized clinics or emergency services in hospitals are primarily based on the personal commitment of individuals. At present, the various centres for pain management in Austria are run with very different operating times, so that for 74% of the chronic pain patients the desired requirements for outpatient pain management are not met and about 50 full-time pain clinics are missing.

Under the patronage of the Austrian Pain Society, various national specialist societies have defined the structure and quality criteria for pain management centres in Austria, include, among others, proof of training, cooperation in interdisciplinary teams or minimum number of new patients per year, depending on the classification of the institution. This stepwise concept of care provision for pain patients is intended as first step to help improve the care of pain patients in Austria!

The full article you find here:

2014-2015: Austrian Health Interview Survey

On behalf of the Austrian BMG (Federal Ministry of Health) and the Austrian Health Agency, Statistik Austria conducted an Austrian-wide survey on the subject of “Health” from October 2013 to June 2015. The “Österreichische Gesundheitsbefragung 2014” is the first health survey according to new European standards for an extensively harmonised health survey every five years. In this way the comparability of data between the individual countries was improved. 

A total of 15,771 randomly selected people aged 15 and above were interviewed about their state of health, health-related behaviour and use of health services.

Positive result: Life expectancy with good health has increased.

The most commonly named illnesses are chronic low-back pain and other chronic pain problems. Women are affected by arthritis, depression, chronic headache and urinary incontinence more often than men. There has been an increase in the number of women daily smokers.

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Chronic low-back pain

1.8 million people stated that they had suffered from chronic low-back pain or other chronic back problems in the last twelve months (men: 23 %, women: 26 %).

The incidence of these health problems increased considerably with advancing age. Whilst one in ten adolescents and young adults suffered from low-back pain, one in three 60-74 year old was affected. In older age groups it was even 43%.

The gender-specific differences are only slightly pronounced in younger and middle aged groups, in the over 75 year olds every second woman complained of back pain and even one in three men.

Chronic neck pain

Almost one fifth of the population suffered from chronic neck pain or other chronic symptoms of the cervical spine (19%). Women are affected by this problem more often than men (23% and 14% respectively). The incidence of these symptoms increases up to middle

age, whereby the differences according to gender still remain. In 45-year olds and above the 12 month prevalence was 20% (men) and 30% (women).

About 10% of the men and 15% of the women said they were affected by both back and neck pain.

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Chronic headache

Chronic headache is a health problem that appears particularly in young and middle-aged women. 11% of women aged below 60 years, but only 4% of men in the same age group stated that they had suffered from chronic back pain within the last 12 months. In the age group 60 years and above the prevalence was 7% for women and 3% for men.


Pain is a wide-spread health restriction and for those affected it means impairment of well-being and quality of life. In addition to the question on 12-month prevalence of chronic back, neck or headache pain the occurrence of physical pain was asked in the last four weeks.

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3.6 million people stated that they had had pain in the last four weeks. Women suffered more frequently from pain than men (54% and 45% respectively). Elderly people complained not only more often about pain, but also more often with increasing age about severe to very severe pain.

The number of people who suffered from (very) slight pain, only increased slightly with age (graph 6 page 25) and was in the course of age 22% to 29%. Whilst 5% of the men and 8% of the women aged from 15 to 29 years of age complained of moderate pain, one in five men and one in four women aged 75 years and above was affected by this. One man in ten aged 45 years and above reported (very) severe pain. The highest prevalence is that of (very) severe pain in women aged 75 years and above (20%).

How often and severely does pain impair those affected in carrying out daily activities in the house and at work? One third of those people who said they had pain in the last four weeks, did not feel restricted at all, a further third felt slightly restricted. 19% of the people with pain were moderately restricted in their daily activities; 10% and 4% of these person groups felt very and extremely restricted respectively. The more severe the pain, the greater the restrictions were in daily life.

People with (very) severe pain estimated their quality of life considerably lower than those without pain (graph 7, page 26). This applies in particular to the general quality of life and physical state.

For further information see

23 Sept 2015: Alliance Chronic Pain awards best-practices

DOLORES price donation to motivate others

For the first time a patient organisation - the Alliance Chronic Pain - has organized an award, which has been officially handed over under the umbrella of the Main Association of Austrian Social Security Institutions (Hauptverband der Österreichischen Sozialversicherungsträger) in Vienna / Austria on 23 September 2015. The awards were given to teams of physicans, therapists and professionals in the health care system, who cooperate on voluntary basis to achieve an optimal pain care for patients respecting the performance catalogue of statutory health insurances.

For more information, please read the full Austrian Alliance Chronic Pain Press Release, the Dolores winners, the Dolores applicants projects and Dolores jury.

Here you will some impressions of the Dolores prize donation: Apa Fotoservice.

02 Sept 2015: Pain care needs to be improved

"Green Club in Parliament": Eva Mückstein, health political speaker of the political green party demands quality standards and structural integration of pain managament

Vienna. "Up to now the treatment of pain as a disease in its own right has not yet been implemented in the performance catalogues of the health insurances", thus comments Mückstein on occasion of the beginning of the annual congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC. "Existing pain clinics are closed down, without having taken care of alternatives in outpatient settings. What we lack of is a structural concept, according to which a stepwise medical pain care shall be developed. "

More information you will find in the Austrian OTS article.

02 Sept 2015: Pain care for Austrian patients vs. EU

Care of pain patients: No positive testimony for Austria in pan-EU comparison

Read the full Press Release (German) of the Austrian Pain Society on occasion of the congress of the European Pain Federation EFIC, Vienna, 02 September 2015.

02 Sept 2015: EFIC-Study on opioid access in Europe

EFIC-Study: Significant differences regarding the access to opioid medicines in Europe - Austria only average

Press Roundtable of the Austrian Pain Society on occasion of the Congress of the European Pain Federation (EFIC), Vienna, 02 September 2015

Here you will find the full journalistic article(German).

05 August 2015: Pain News - Austrian Round Table

Management of chronic pain patients in Austria
Schmerz Nachtichten (Pain News) Round Table

Pain is probably the most widely spread reason why patients consult a physician. Stakeholder, invited by Schmerznachrichten, discussed the status of care of the about 1,5 million Austrian pain patients and how it could be improved.

Participants of the Round Table discussion were Dr. Wolfgang Jaksch, current President of the ÖSG (Austrian Pain Society), Dr. Johannes Steinhart (Vice President of the Austrian Medical Association), Mag. Martin Schaffenrath (Vice Chairman of Association Board in the Federation of Austrian Social Insurances); Dr. Eva Mückstein (Representative of the National Council, Die Grünen), Eva-Marla Kernstock (BIQG, GÖG).

Here you can find the full article of the Schmerz Nachrichten Round Table (PDF, German).

Source: SchmerzNachrichten (Zeitschrift der Österreichischen SchmerzGesellschaft) N r . 3 | 2015 • ISSN 2076 - 7625 -

30 Jul 2015: Recognizing Chronic Pain

Between the two poles "Not to be taken seriously" and exaggerated promises of salvation it is difficult for pain patients to find appropriate therapies for their suffering.

The recognition of the disease "chronic pain" in the catalogue of health insurances would facilitate the establishment of interdisciplinary pain therapies. In addition, it would save costs in the health care system in the long run, thus comments the spokeswoman of Alliance for Chronic Pain Austria, Dr. Erika Folkes.

The full German interview with Erika Folkes published at

17 Jun 2015: Improving care of pain patients

Medical pain care is at its limits. Initiated by health speaker Mrs Eva Mückstein an application for the development of federal quality guidelines for pain care have been presented to the health care committee. These guidelines have now been approved by by the government parties. The management of chronic pain patients shall finally be improved.

More information on this you will find on the Austrian website

June 2013: Motion by Member of Parliament Dr. Spadiut

Motion by Member of Parliament Dr. Wolfgang Spadiut Colleague and fellows on improving the situation of chronic pain patients in Austria

Around 1.7 million Austrians are chronic pain patients. The situation of health care of this group of people can rightly be described as unsatisfactory. Every second of these patients is dissatisfied with his or her pain management. There is a lack of treatment options, and often it takes years to find a corresponding diagnosis. Thus, it is not surprising that an enormous economic damage arises. Around one third is unable to work and 21 per cent are in early retirement. The resulting damage is estimated at up to EUR 3 billion.


In this context, the undersigned deputies demand the following Motion for a resolution: The National Council is requested to adopt:

"The Federal Minister of Health is encouraged to take immediate initiatives to improve the situation of pain patients in Austria, that a multi-professional and integrative care at all levels of care is ensured. Furthermore, "chronic pain" is to be put on the agenda of the Federal targeting Commission."

In formal terms, the allocation to the Health Committeeis requested.

Here you can read the full Austrian Motion June 2013 (Entschließungsantrag).

3 Dec 2012: Basis for Austrian “Road Map for Action”

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Basis for Austrian “Road Map for Action” established

On the 3rd December 2012, an expert panel discussion on "Chronic pain as a major cause of absenteeism and early retirement" took place in Vienna. Besides Federal Minister Hundstorfer, many different experts in the fields of Politics, medicine, nursing, economics and pharmaceutical industries participated. 

The aim of the discussion group was to form the basis for an Austrian "Road Map for Action" in whom recommendations for the optimization and advancement of chronic Pain Patients’ supply are to be formulated and addressed to the policy. A “Road Map for Action” already exists on European level. 
Here you can find the European “Road Map for Action”

Please read here the original Austrian Press Release on “Chronic pain as a major cause of absenteeism and early retirement” (GER).

24 Oct 2012: Alliance for Chronic Pain Austria

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EURAG Austria and 27 support groups merge to invest Austrian pain patients with a strong voice

On the 24th October 2012 the EURAG Austria (European Federation for the Welfare of the Elderly) and 12 SHGs (support groups) assembled for the first time in the the "Institute for Ethics and Law in Medicine", Austria, to put European politicans under pressure to attain a raised awareness that pain needs to be considered as a disease on its own rights.

EURAG Austria as a founding member of the "Pain Alliance Europe" was the significant influence to unify the SHGs into the "Alliance for Chronic Pain Austria" under the motto "Together we are strong". The Alliance's mission is to invest Austrian pain patients with a powerful and active voice.

Furthermore, it was decided to design a new Homepage soon to display the Alliance's mission, the henceforth 27 SHGs, new ways of theapy and helpful links.

Yet the latest proceedings are presented on the EURAG Autria Homepage.

October 2012: Publication "Chronic Pain"

Overview of outpatient pain treatment in Austria

The German Pain Society (Deutsche Schmerzgesellschaft e.V.) released an overview of the Austrian outpatient management in their publication organ "Der Schmerz". It is published by the "Springer Verlag" and written by four co-authors; E. Krahulec, L.J. Schmidt, W. Habacher and H. Kratzer.

The publication displays that the quality criteria relating to the structure of care established by the Austrian Society for Pain have only been partially implemented. Potential for improvement exists particularly with regards to the prevalence of pain-specific training, interdisciplinary teamwork and the measurement of outcomes.

Here you can read the full publication „Der Schmerz“

14 Dec 2011: First Austrian SIP Steering Committee

Initiation of implementation of the "Road Map for Action" for the improvement of pain care in Austria

Press Release from 14 December 2011 (in German language) from the first Steering Committee meeting, which took place in Vienna on 25 November 2011. The seven policy dimensions of the "Road Map for Action", which were developed by the European, multi-stakeholder platform "societal Impact of Pain" (SIP), will be implemented in Austria. Representatives from the Austrian health care system discussed the national challenges of pain care and developed concrete proposals for action for the improvement. 

Press Release Austrian SIP Steering Committe
Societal Impact of Pain - A Road Map for Action