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New Survey Shows Many Chronic Pain Sufferers Are Reluctant to Discuss Their Pain with Health Care Providers

HealthyWomen Launches Campaign and Resources to Help People Who Suffer from Fibromyalgia, a Chronic Widespread Pain Condition

Red Bank, N.J./PRNewswire/ – Conversations with health care providers can be challenging at times for all patients, but a new survey commissioned by HealthyWomen and conducted by Synovate Healthcare in July of 2010 reveals a concerning communications breakdown between people with chronic pain and their healthcare providers.  More than one-third of chronic pain sufferers (36%) have simply learned to live with their often debilitating pain and may be reluctant to speak with a health care provider about their condition, according to a survey of women and men with chronic pain released today. Only 57 percent of respondents agreed that their health care provider understood their symptoms and nearly a quarter (23%) felt their provider was dismissive of their chronic pain.

"It's unfortunate that many people with chronic pain are suffering in silence when health care practitioners, family and friends can provide support and comfort," said Elizabeth Battaglino Cahill, RN, executive director of the nonprofit HealthyWomen, who commissioned the survey. "More than one-third of respondents stated they are reluctant to discuss their pain as they don't want to be seen as a complainer. Yet the vast majority, 84 percent, says they know their own body and are confident the pain they’re feeling is not normal."

The survey is part of a new educational campaign – "Explain Your Pain" – launched today by HealthyWomen. This campaign, an educational collaboration between HealthyWomen and Pfizer Inc, seeks to encourage and strengthen dialogue between suffers of chronic pain, including those with fibromyalgia, and their health care providers, family and friends. Fibromyalgia is one of the most common chronic pain conditions in the U.S., affecting more than 5 million Americans, mostly women.  

Characterized by chronic widespread muscle pain and tenderness, fibromyalgia can have a debilitating effect on people’s lives. In fact, 85 percent of fibromyalgia patients responding to the survey stated that because of their pain, they’re not the person they used to be; 65 percent feel trapped by their pain and 90 percent say the condition takes away their ability to do the things they love.

"Fibromyalgia patients can often find relief from their pain if they work closely with a health care provider who is experienced in management of the condition or who is willing to work with them to learn more about the disorder," said David Silver, MD, Former Director of the Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. "Clear communication is critical to the diagnosis and management of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition.  It's important for patients and health care providers to have open and productive conversations and work together as a team.  What works for one person may not work for another; patients should be confident to find a health care provider that is a good fit for them."

Lack of communication extends to family and friends as well. Only a small fraction of fibromyalgia patients are open and honest with their significant other (34%) and friends (26%) about why they might not be able to do things like go out for lunch or make plans because of their chronic pain condition.

About the Campaign
The Explain Your Pain campaign encourages and strengthens dialogue between people living with fibromyalgia, and their health care providers, family and friends.  The program offers a variety of resources including expert insights and first person perspectives via print and video on living with, and effectively discussing, fibromyalgia with one's health care professional, family and friends to gain help and support. These materials are available at

One component of the Explain Your Pain campaign was a survey conducted online in July 2010 by Synovate Healthcare among 1,008 men and women, age 18 and over in the United States – who self-identified as suffering from chronic pain for a period of 4 months or more and have spoken to a health care provider about their pain – to assess their experiences with chronic pain and communication with health care providers. Twenty-eight percent of respondents had received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia specifically. The survey was commissioned by HealthyWomen as part of a collaboration with Pfizer Inc.

About HealthyWomen
HealthyWomen (HW) is the nation's leading independent health information source for women. For more than 20 years, women have been coming to the HW for answers to their most pressing and personal health care questions. HW provides health information through a wide array of online content and print publications that are original, objective and reviewed and approved by medical experts. Its website,®, was recognized by ForbesWoman as one of the "Top 100 Websites for Women" and was named the top women’s health website by Dr. Mehmet Oz in O, The Oprah Magazine and by Good Housekeeping magazine. To learn more, visit

For more information about fibromyalgia and materials from the educational campaign, please visit


Diane Carlton
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Lisa Guiterman

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