Original Report| Volume 13, ISSUE 2, P139-145, February 2012

The Economic Cost of Chronic Noncancer Pain in Ireland: Results From the PRIME Study, Part 2


      To assess the economic cost of chronic pain in Ireland, information was gathered from 140 people with chronic pain. Direct and indirect costs attributable to chronic pain and medical conditions of which chronic pain was a feature were recorded retrospectively for 12 months. Mean cost per chronic pain patient was estimated at €5,665 per year across all grades of pain, with mean costs increasing according to the severity of pain. A small proportion of patients account for the bulk of costs—the top 5% most expensive patients accounted for 26.4% of costs, with a mean cost per patient of €29,936, and the 10% most expensive patients were responsible for 42.8% of all costs. Total cost for individuals aged 20 and above was estimated at €5.34 billion per year, or 2.86% of Irish GDP in 2008. Those with clinically elevated depression scores had costs that were twice as high as people who scored below the depression cut-off score. Chronic pain services in Ireland are generally underresourced. Improved coordination and better management of patients via interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation program is essential and may offer a means of reducing the sizeable economic burden of chronic pain.


      The cost of chronic pain per patient was €5,665 per year extrapolated to €5.34 billion or 2.86% of GDP per year. Those with clinically significant depression had costs twice as high as those without depression. The significant burden of chronic pain highlights the need for cost effective interventions to reduce long-term disability.

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