SIP 2019 education press release

Inadequate HCP education causing patient pain and costing billions in lost productivity

Brussels, 7th November

Today, hundreds of chronic pain advocates presented a Joint Statement to European policy makers on how to improve pain education in the EU, at the Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) high-level symposium in Brussels.

“Until we tackle the knowledge gap around chronic pain among healthcare professionals and create more awareness about pain management, we will continue to leave millions of chronic pain sufferers behind,” says Prof Brona Fullen, President-elect of European Pain Federation EFIC®.

“All healthcare professionals require specific pain education as this is often neglected in basic training and undergraduate education. Importantly, this education should look at pain from an interprofessional perspective, taking account of all healthcare professionals and their role in pain management.”

Currently only 22% medical schools in the EU offer a dedicated pain medicines module, though numbers vary between Member States[1]. This lack of education can have devastating effects on patient care, the healthcare system and the economy.

“More specialised pain education is urgently needed to ensure patients are getting the right care,” says Joop van Griensven, President of Pain Alliance Europe, the organisation representing chronic pain patients in the EU.

“Treating chronic pain requires understanding the patient experience – not just treating the disease but seeing the patient as a whole person who has family, a job, hobbies.”

Chronic pain accounts for almost 50% of all absences from work and 60% of permanent work incapacity[2].

One in five Europeans live with chronic pain. The estimated direct and indirect healthcare costs for chronic pain disorders in European Member States vary between 2% and 3% of GDP across the EU [3].

 “The SIP platform is coming to the table with clear recommendations to better mitigate the impacts of pain. This has been co-created with more than 300 patient organisations, medical associations and other civil society groups. We just need policy makers with the political will to enact them.” says Prof Fullen.

The SIP Symposium will address four priorities:

  • Developing better healthcare quality indicators to measure the impact pain
  • Improving pain education for healthcare professionals, patients and the general public
  • Investing in pain research at EU and national level
  • Improving employment conditions for people with chronic pain

- Ends – 

For more information email Lawrence Muskitta at

The following people are available for interview:

  • Joop van Griensven, President of Pain Alliance Europe
  • Prof Brona Fullen, President-elect of European Pain Federation EFIC®


[1] Briggs, E. V., Battelli, D., Gordon, D., Kopf, A., Ribeiro, S., Puig, M. M., & Kress, H. G. (2015). Current pain education within undergraduate medical studies across Europe: Advancing the Provision of Pain Education and Learning (APPEAL) study. BMJ open, 5(8), e006984. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2014-006984

[2] Bevan, S. (2013). Reducing temporary work absence through early intervention: The case of MSDs in the EU. The Work Foundation, 2. Available at: 

[3] Eccleston, C., Wells, C., & Morlion, B. (2017). European Pain Management. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, ISBN: 9780198785750 Available at:

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