Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Chronic pain in homeless people not managed well, study finds; Almost half reported using street drugs to treat their pain

Date:
July 21, 2011
Source:
St. Michael's Hospital
Summary:
Chronic pain is not managed well in the general population and it's an even greater challenge for homeless people, according to new research.

Chronic pain is not managed well in the general population and it's an even greater challenge for homeless people, according to new research by St. Michael's Hospital.

Twenty-five per cent of Canadians say they have continuous or intermittent chronic pain lasting six months or more. The number is likely to be even higher among homeless people, in part due to frequent injuries.

Of the 152 residents of homeless shelters with chronic pain studied by Dr. Stephen Hwang, more than one-third (37 per cent) had Chronic Pain Grade IV, the highest level, indicating high intensity and high disability.

Almost half the participants (46 per cent) reported using street drugs to treat their pain and 29 per cent used alcohol, said Dr. Hwang, a physician and researcher with the hospital's Centre for Research on Inner City Health.

Only half (51 per cent) of the participants were being treated for their pain by a physician. More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of the physicians said they had difficulty managing the patients' pain because of such things as a history of addiction, mental illness and missed appointments.

The research results were published in the online journal BMC Family Practice. Dr. Hwang said he believes it's the first study in a peer-reviewed journal to describe the severity and management of chronic pain among residents of homeless shelters.

"Our study demonstrates the need for improved approaches to the management of chronic pain in the homeless population," he said.

He believes community outreach programs may be necessary to help homeless people with chronic pain find health care. As well, health care providers who work with marginalized populations need to familiarize themselves with their patients' housing situations and routinely screen individuals who are homeless for chronic pain.

"Clinicians should also inquire about barriers to pain management such as financial ability to obtain appropriate over-the-counter and prescription medications. The adverse effects of homeless people's living and sleeping conditions should also be considered."

Dr. Hwang said that while physicians may have justifiable concerns about prescribing opiod drugs to patients with a history of substance abuse, this should not be a reason to avoid addressing chronic pain management with them.

"The answer to pain is not always simply a pill," he said, noting studies that indicate opioids such as oxycontin are often over-prescribed.

"A lot of patients expect a pill, when often what they really need is physiotherapy, which they can't afford and isn't covered by insurance."

Homeless people said that from their viewpoint, the barriers to managing their pain included the stress of living in shelters, inability to afford prescription medications and poor sleeping conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Stephen W. Hwang, Emma Wilkins, Catharine Chambers, Eileen Estrabillo, Jon Berends, Anna MacDonald. Chronic pain among homeless persons: characteristics, treatment, and barriers to management. BMC Family Practice, 2011; 12 (1): 73 DOI: 10.1186/1471-2296-12-73

Cite This Page:

St. Michael's Hospital. "Chronic pain in homeless people not managed well, study finds; Almost half reported using street drugs to treat their pain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110721112613.htm>.
St. Michael's Hospital. (2011, July 21). Chronic pain in homeless people not managed well, study finds; Almost half reported using street drugs to treat their pain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110721112613.htm
St. Michael's Hospital. "Chronic pain in homeless people not managed well, study finds; Almost half reported using street drugs to treat their pain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110721112613.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins