Survey Finds Misperceptions About Pain Relievers, Broad Lack of Awareness in Treating Pain

By Matt Mendenhall

Despite widespread prevalence of pain and the high volume of pain medications used in the United States, a new nationwide survey, Understanding America’s Pain, reveals many people lack a basic understanding about non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including the risks associated with them. In 2014, 123 million prescriptions were filled for NSAIDs in the U.S., and it is reported that one-third of the general population have used over-the-counter NSAIDs. The survey, however, shows many Americans who take pain medications are not aware of the risks associated with these widely used products.

According to the survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults:

There is a lack of general awareness around NSAIDs: Nearly half of those surveyed (47 percent) say they do not know what NSAIDs are.

People incorrectly identify common NSAIDs: Many who responded saying that they are aware of NSAIDs, failed to correctly identify common pain relievers. For example, 42 percent say ibuprofen does not belong to the NSAID class of medicine.

Many medication users aren’t fully aware of the risks associated with NSAIDs: Approximately half of medication users (58 percent) acknowledge that there are risks associated with NSAIDs, but only 27 percent are aware of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommendations to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration.

Side effects are prevalent: Among those who take prescription NSAIDs or over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, 62 percent experienced at least one side effect.

Pain is being inadequately controlled: Only 3 in 10 (31 percent) who experience pain feel that their pain is completely controlled and only half (48 percent) of medication users say they are very confident that the medications they take are the safest and most effective for their pain symptoms.

The survey results come at a time when the FDA is strengthening cardiovascular warning labels that already exist on prescription and non-aspirin NSAIDs. The serious cardiovascular adverse events associated with NSAIDs are dose-related, and risk may occur early in treatment and may increase with duration of use.

The survey also found that people often do not take the proper steps to manage pain and that pain continues to interfere with their everyday lives:

People ignore their pain: About one in three people (34 percent) who have pain admit that they typically ignore it.

Pain disrupts everyday activities: In spite of their efforts to treat pain, Americans report that pain disrupts normal, everyday activities, such as exercise (57 percent), walking (45 percent), household chores (45 percent), and even sexual activity (40 percent); six in 10 (63 percent) Americans with children have missed at least one of their child’s events because of pain.

People are not discussing pain with their doctors: Many who experience pain are not discussing pain management or treatment options with a healthcare professional. Almost 6 in 10 (58 percent) do not discuss how to manage pain with their doctor and 54 percent are not taking the opportunity to consult a doctor about the steps they take to relieve pain.

People are unaware of low-dose pain medications: Many medication users (52 percent) are not aware of low-dose pain medication options.

The complete results are available here.

Iroko, a pharmaceutical company based in Philadelphia, is consulting with the Arthritis Foundation to further evaluate the survey findings and provide insight into a patient population with ongoing pain management issues.

The Arthritis Foundation plans to conduct additional research with its constituents to learn more about pain (levels of pain they experience, how pain impacts their lives, and their pain management techniques) and identify any similar knowledge gaps that may exist among people with arthritis. The results of the foundation’s study are forthcoming.

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

Matt Mendenhall is the editor of Pain-Free Living.

Statements and opinions expressed on this Web site are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the publishers or advertisers. The information provided on this Web site should not be construed as medical instruction. Consult appropriate health-care professionals before taking action based on this information.

Get the latest news and tips from Pain-Free Living, delivered to your inbox twice a month!

Sign Up For Our E-Newsletter

We're on Facebook

Become a Fan

We're on Twitter

Follow Us on Twitter