Many Chronic Pain Sufferers Reluctant to Discuss Pain

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • A July 2010 survey, commissioned by HealthyWomen, revealed a concerning communications breakdown between people with chronic pain and their health care providers.  They found that more than one-third of chronic pain sufferers (36 percent) have simply learned to live with their often debilitating pain and may be reluctant to speak with a health care provider about their condition. Only 57 percent of respondents agreed that their health care provider understood their symptoms and nearly a quarter (23 percent) felt their provider was dismissive of their chronic pain.

    This online survey was taken by 1,008 men and women who had been suffering with pain for four months or more and had talked with a health care provider about their pain.  It was part of a new "Explain Your Pain" educational campaign.  This campaign, an educational collaboration between HealthyWomen and Pfizer Inc, seeks to encourage and strengthen dialogue between sufferers of chronic pain, including those with fibromyalgia, and their health care providers, family and friends.

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    The survey also revealed that this lack of communication extends to family and friends as well. Only a small fraction of fibromyalgia patients are open and honest with their significant other (34 percent) and friends (26 percent) about why they might not be able to do things (like go out for lunch or make plans) because of their chronic pain condition.

    The Explain Your Pain program offers a variety of resources including expert insights and first person perspectives via print and video on living with, and effectively discussing, fibromyalgia with one's health care professional, family and friends to gain help and support. These materials are available at

    For additional tips on communicating with your doctor, read my article:  How to Talk to Your Doctor About Your Pain

    New Survey Shows Many Chronic Pain Sufferers Are Reluctant to Discuss Their Pain with Health Care Providers. HealthyWomen press release. September 21, 2010.

Published On: September 21, 2010