Almost two fifths of Irish patients suffering from chronic pain are not taking their medication as prescribed, new research revealed today.
The survey showed many people continued to take ineffective drugs, while others avoided tablets with uncomfortable side effects.
The number of patients visiting their doctor also declined over the course of the year-long study, from 95% to 68%.
Galway GP and former president of the Irish Medical Organisation Dr Martin Daly said many people with chronic pain simply abandoned treatment when they could not see results.
“It’s important for both patients and doctors to realise that if pain therapy prescribed is inadequate, there are many other options available to them,” he said.
“It’s also incumbent on ourselves as medical professionals to outline a treatment plan to patients, let them know the limitations of treatments and outline possible side effects like nausea and constipation.”
The Painstory survey found 80% of Irish patients still complained of severe pain after a year’s treatment.
While 68% of people consistently consulted a healthcare professional over the 12 month period, just 2% had regularly met with a pain specialist.
“There are long waiting lists for pain clinics all over the country,” Dr Daly said.
“There is inadequate access to them for patients in the public service and more staff and clinics are needed.”
Researchers tracked the progress of 25 Irish patients as part of their survey, which covered 294 patients in 13 European countries.
Their findings were presented at an international conference on pain in Lisbon.