European Commission recognises Societal Impact of Pain (09 June 2017)

Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General Dg Sante, Formally Announces Launch of Pain Expert and Stakeholder Group on the Eu Health Policy Platform at the Societal Impact of Pain Symposium

Valletta, Malta, June 9, 2017. The 7th annual Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) symposium comes to an end today, with clear policy recommendations having been formulated to change pain care in the European Union for the better and alleviate the effect of pain on society. Martin Seychell, Deputy Director General in the Health and Food Safety's Directorate, announced in a speech that the European Commission is following SIP’s lead and has launched the EU Health Policy Platform to build a bridge between health systems and policy makers. Among other health policy areas, the societal impact of pain is included as well and will have a dedicated expert group.

Ultimately, the expert group that is to be composed will be an instrument that enhances best practice sharing across EU member states, in coordination with the Commission. Once fully functioning, public health groups in all areas, employers’ organizations, insurers, economists and even digital stakeholders are to be involved. The EU Health Policy Platform operates in two ways: online discussions and collaboration as well as face-to-face meetings to host targeted thematic discussions.

The platform the European Commission has launched contributes to the objectives SIP is pursuing and formulates in its policy recommendations. On day one of the symposium, four working groups worked out individual suggestions targeting the issues discussed. These were presented during the plenary today:

  1. Establish an EU platform on the societal impact of pain
  2. Develop instruments to assess the societal impact of pain
  3. Initiate policies addressing the impact of pain on employment
  4. Prioritise pain within education for health care professionals, patients and the general public
  5. Increase investment in research on the Societal Impact of Pain

“In the long-term, the European Commission’s initiative could positively address some of the recommendations presented during the SIP symposium, and reflect the Maltese Presidency’s goal of structured cooperation between healthcare systems. It is a huge step forward for our efforts and patients throughout Europe,” said a delighted Bart Morlion, President elect, European Pain Federation EFIC, who is responsible for the scientific framework of SIP.

This year’s symposium was attended by more than 300 participants, including healthcare professionals, pain advocacy groups, researchers and specialists in the field of pain as well as insurers, budget holders and European politicians.


- Ends -


Notes to editors:

For more background information on the policy recommendation made, please see below.


  1. Establish an EU platform on the societal impact of pain
    The European Commission should follow up on commitments made by national governments at the informal Council of EU Health Ministers in Milan, 22 September 2014, to establish an EU platform on pain, facilitating comparison and benchmarking of best practices between member states.
  1. Instruments to assess the societal impact of pain.
    National health authorities should define, establish or use instruments and indicators to measure the societal impact of pain. This should be done through the creation of national data registries and a push for this data to be shared at a European level. To do this, national governments and health authorities should establish quality indicators to set criteria for granting access to cross-border healthcare and ensuring that electronic health records take note of pain.
  1. Initiate policies addressing the impact of pain on employment
    The European Commission and national governments should work together to promote policies that reflect the link between pain care and employment. This should be recognised at both EU and national levels, through a push for greater interconnection between ministries and services dealing with health, employment, research, and social protection policies and systems. Better understanding of these interconnections would allow for greater efficiencies in pain management, helping patients access the treatment they need to continue being active in the work place.

    National plans should also encourage enforcement of existing national legislation requiring reasonable, flexible workplace adjustments by employers that can help people with chronic pain stay in work or reintegrate into the workforce.
  1. Prioritise pain within education for health care professionals, patients and the general public
    National governments and health authorities should initiate patient education programmes and information campaigns in order to create public awareness of the short and long-term consequences of inadequate access to pain treatment for pain symptoms. The aim of these programmes should be to reduce stigma and increase self-management of pain.

    National governments should also promote wider access to pain education among the healthcare profession, including all those who see and treat pain.
  1. Increase investment in research on the Societal Impact of Pain
    The European Commission and national governments should increase investment in research (basic science, clinical, epidemiological) on the societal impact of pain as a priority in future EU framework programmes and make funds available via employment and health policy research programmes.

    The OECD and European Commission should also, in their upcoming edition of Health at a Glance: Europe 2018, present pain as a key indicator of health and health systems analysing the links between population health and labour market outcomes.

About the SIP-Platform

The Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) is an international, multi-stakeholder platform created as a joint initiative of the European Pain Federation EFIC® and Grünenthal with the aim to:

  • raise awareness of the relevance of the impact that pain has on our societies, health and economic systems
  • exchange information and sharing best-practices across all Member States of the European Union
  • develop and foster European-wide policy strategies for an improved pain management in Europe (Pain Policy).

The scientific framework of the “Societal Impact of Pain” (SIP) platform is under the responsibility of the European Pain Federation EFIC®. Cooperation partners for SIP 2017 are Pain Alliance Europe (PAE) and Active Citizenship Network (ACN). The SIP 2017 symposium is co-hosted by the Malta Health Network and the No Pain Foundation. The pharmaceutical company Grünenthal GmbH is responsible for funding and non-financial support (e.g. logistical support). In the past the scientific aims of the SIP symposia have been endorsed by over 300 international and national pain advocacy groups, scientific organisations and authorities.

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