Barmer doctor report: More than three million Germans suffer from chronic pain

Barmer doctor report: More than three million Germans suffer from chronic pain

Chronic pain affects millions of Germans
Millions of people in Germany suffer from chronic pain. Your therapeutic care has made progress in recent years, but it "still needs to be significantly improved", concludes the "Barmer GEK Doctor Report 2016". According to information from the Barmer GEK, this provides valid figures for the first time based on health insurance data on the subject of "chronic pain".

According to the Barmer GEK, a lot of pain can take a chronic form. In the diagnoses of those affected, for example, back pain, abdominal pain, pelvic pain, joint pain, headache, pain in the extremities, sore throat and chest pain or eye pain are indicated. However, the chronic pain discussed here can be determined regardless of organ-related diagnoses. In total, around 3.25 million people in Germany suffer from such chronic pain, according to the Barmer GEK. Despite important advances, further improvements in therapeutic care are still needed.

Prevent chronification of pain
Chronic pain is often “an independent disease that has to be treated very specifically,” emphasized the CEO of the Barmer GEK, Dr. Christoph Straub, at the presentation of the report in Berlin. With more than three million people affected, the fight against chronic pain must become a national health goal. A continuous supply chain is necessary here in order to prevent the chronification of pain as often as possible through interdisciplinary cooperation. Straub believes that the general practitioner should assume a pilot function.

More and more people with chronic pain
According to the information from the Barmer GEK, the data used by the Aqua Institute in Göttingen to take into account the diagnoses used to document chronic pain without any direct reference to an organ. It had to be noted that between 2005 and 2014 "chronic pain was diagnosed more and more frequently." While only 1.59 percent of the population was affected in 2005, the diagnosis rate in 2014 reached an average of 4.02 percent nationwide. In principle, chronic pain was also "documented significantly more frequently in women (than in men) in all age groups, with the number of those affected increasing with age," reports the Barmer GEK.

Women affected significantly more often
The data analysis showed that in the group of over 80-year-olds around 13.2 percent of the population was affected by chronic pain in 2014, 143,000 men and 444,000 women. This corresponded to a diagnosis rate of 9.3 percent for men and 15.2 percent for women, according to the Barmer GEK. Among the over 90-year-olds, “about ten percent of men and almost 16 percent of women are affected, around 15,000 men and almost 83,000 women.” In addition to the gender-specific differences, there were also regional differences. The report shows that "chronic pain in Germany is documented very differently from region to region." People in the state of Brandenburg are most often affected (with 5.79 percent). The lowest rate, however, was documented in Bremen with 2.94 percent.

Many chronic pain patients do not receive adequate therapy
According to the CEO of the Barmer GEK, a lot has happened in the care of chronic pain patients in recent years. However, there is a differentiated picture of pain medicine. Not everyone affected receives adequate therapy. The number of patients treated with multimodal pain therapy in the hospital more than doubled between 2006 and 2014, and in 2014 around 61,000 patients were treated with chronic pain multimodally. However, Straub reports that this corresponds to only one fifth of all patients who would be potentially suitable for such therapy. The supply of multimodal pain therapy, in particular, is not sufficiently assured from a quality point of view. "We therefore strongly support the efforts of the professional associations to develop binding quality criteria for multimodal pain therapy in hospitals," emphasizes Straub.

Outpatient treatments are increasing
The Barmer GEK medical report also clarifies further developments in the healthcare system based on the data evaluation of 8.6 million insured. For example, outpatient care has increased significantly. In 2014, according to the Barmer GEK, every resident in Germany visited around two doctors on average per quarter. With 8.5 treatment cases per head, the number of cases in 2014 reached a new high since 2005. The health insurance companies incurred an average of 522.96 euros in 2014 for outpatient medical care for their insured. This corresponds to an increase of 3.5 percent compared to 2013. "As in previous years, the expenses for men at 450 euros were significantly less than for women at 593 euros," continued the Barmer GEK. According to current figures, "92.9 percent of the population had contact with outpatient medical care within 2014", the health insurance company continues.

Men show little tendency to early cancer detection
The numbers in the current doctor's report also show that cancer screening tests are still used more frequently by women. "58 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 45 used it," said the Barmer GEK. With increasing age, however, women 's willingness to take part in early diagnosis examinations decreased. From the age of 75, it was less than 40 percent. A total of 41 percent of all women in Germany had a cancer screening examination in 2014, while only 11.7 percent of the men took part in such an examination. (fp)

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