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Pain Research and Management
Volume 7, Issue 4, Pages 199-203
Original Article

Patients' Attitudes and Prior Treatments in Neuropathic Pain: A Pilot Study

Ian Gilron,1,2 Joan Bailey,1 Donald F Weaver,3,4 and Robyn L Houlden5

1Department of Anesthesiology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
2Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
3Department of Medicine, Division of Neurology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
4Department of Chemistry, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
5Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Ongoing research continues to expand the knowledge of neuropathic pain. It is vital that established treatments and valuable discoveries ultimately improve patient care.

OBJECTIVES: Attitudes and prior treatments of patients being screened for neuropathic pain trials were evaluated to provide further understanding of the barriers to the management of neuropathic pain.

METHODS: A questionnaire was completed by patients with neuropathic pain who were either referred by local physicians or self referred in response to clinical trial advertisements from the authors' facility.

RESULTS: In total, 151 patients completed the questionnaire. Diagnoses included diabetic neuropathy (55.6%), postherpetic neuralgia (29.8%), idiopathic peripheral neuropathy (9.3%) and others (5.3%). The mean pain duration was 4.7 years, and the mean daily pain (on a score of 0 to 10) was 7.6. During questioning, 72.8% complained of inadequate pain control and 25.2% had never tried any antineuropathic analgesics (tricyclic antidepressants, opioids or anticonvulsants). New antineuropathic analgesics (eg, gabapentin) were being used by only 16.6%. Opioids, tricyclic antidepressants and anticonvulsants had never been tried by 41.1%, 59.6% and 72.2%, respectively. Fears of addiction and adverse effects were expressed by 31.8% and 48.3%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: New, and even conventional, therapies are often not pursued, despite inadequate pain control. Several issues are discussed, including patient barriers to seeking pain management, patient and physician barriers to analgesic drug therapy, and appropriate use of and access to multidisciplinary pain centres. Failure to implement therapeutic advances in pain management not only hinders improvement in patient care, but also may render futile decades of research. Widespread professional, patient and public education, as well as continued interdisciplinary research on treatment barriers, is essential.