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Australia puts a price tag on its pain

Can you put a price tag on pain? Apparently you can. A new study in Australia estimates that pain in the country costs Aus $34.3 billion (US$30.7 billion).

world Updated: Nov 19, 2007 13:45 IST

Can you put a price tag on pain? Apparently you can. A new study in Australia estimates that pain in the country costs Aus $34.3 billion (US$30.7 billion).

The study, conducted in collaboration with the University of Sydney, says this translates into a cost of Aus $11,000 (US$9,847) for each of the estimated 3.2 million people grappling with pain in the country. The price tag on pain includes both financial costs and loss of healthy life.

Titled 'The High Price of Pain: The Economic Impact of Persistent Pain in Australia', the findings of the study could help identify the best ways to ease suffering, save healthcare costs and help patients maintain productive lives, researchers say.

"The impact and cost of persistent pain is so widespread that a national approach is needed to address this major health issue and its hidden health burden," says Christine Bennett of MBF Foundation, which funded the study.

"The study shows that the bottom line of chronic pain is huge both in human terms and its economic impact. Australians suffering from persistent pain could benefit from approaches that can help them manage or minimise their pain to improve their lives and the health system."

With 3.2 million people in pain, productivity loss is estimated Aus $11.7 billion (US$10.5 billion) annually; the burden of disease accounts for a further Aus $11.5 billion (US$10.3 billion); and health system costs account for Aus $7 billion (US$6.3 billion).

Professor Cousins said the study should prompt more action to prevent pain from going under-treated or untreated so that its economic cost can be reduced.