Life-impacting pain common in Vietnam, but few seek professional help: study

By Phan Anh   March 12, 2019 | 11:39 pm PT
Life-impacting pain common in Vietnam, but few seek professional help: study
Life-impacting pain is common in Vietnam, but patients are reluctant to seek professional help. Photo by Shutterstock/Albina Glisic
Life-impacting pain is common in Vietnam but professional help is rarely sought due to reasons including limited attention to pain management.

A study published by Dove Medical Press late last month surveyed 12,136 randomly selected respondents aged 10 and above from 48 provinces between December 2014 and May 2015.

The study about the rate and demographics of pain among Vietnamese, the impacts of such pain and the behaviors it causes found that 85.63 percent of respondents experienced pain severe enough to impact their daily lives, with 67.71 percent saying it affected their job performance.

More than 24 percent suffered from acute pain, while 62.43 reported chronic pain.

The head was the most common site of pain (68.7 percent) followed by the back (27.5 percent).

Despite physical pain, only 43.5 percent sought help from a doctor and only 62 percent of them were satisfied with the treatment outcome.

Self-management was the most common method for pain management, which could result in delayed diagnosis of underlying medical problems and a poor prognosis of otherwise treatable ailments.

Reluctance to seek professional help stemmed from the fact that the median cost of pain treatment was $150-250, a big burden for many patients in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese cultural preference to treat diseases at home rather than in hospital was also a factor.

Besides, the country’s medical establishment does not pay enough attention to pain management, with few pain specialists and the lack of training courses in pain management at medical universities.

Pain is a common healthcare problem not only in terms of its medical effects but also due to its socioeconomic impacts, evident from many major epidemiological studies conducted in developed countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, and Japan.

Chronic pain, in particular, is of greater concern as it leads to decreasing quality of life in developing countries like Vietnam, with inadequate or undertreated chronic pain potentially affecting people’s daily activities and behaviors, which in turn could contribute to depression and anxiety.

However, there are few studies on the prevalence of pain in communities and how chronic pain patients are managed. There is no published epidemiological data on pain in Vietnam.

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