Better understanding of pain increases patient well-being, VUB study shows

There is more to chronic pain than physical factors, as emotions such as anxiety can amplify pain. A better understanding of this by healthcare providers also leads to an improvement in patients' well-being. This is the conclusion of a study published on Friday by the Pain in Motion research group at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Around 23 per cent of Belgians suffer from chronic pain. However, the researchers say that healthcare providers too often focus only on the physical causes of pain. As a result, painkillers are often prescribed. But according to Pain in Motion, this approach does not benefit the patient.

"Patients with pain that has no obvious cause often undergo more and more scans that do not reveal anything. Their doctor then tells them that they are physically healthy. This is frustrating and their complaints are real," says researcher Wouter Munneke.

Previous research shows that pain can also be linked to anxiety and lack of understanding from family and work. "Patients fall short at home, at work or in social relationships. This leads to more pain," says Munneke.

Specialised training course

To give healthcare providers a better understanding of the psychological and social factors of pain, the researchers developed a training course in collaboration with the FPS Public Health, which they taught to 500 caregivers in Antwerp, Ghent, Brussels, Namur and Liège.

Research shows that after the course, providers have a better understanding of pain and prescribe less medication. Patients' well-being would improve, and they are less likely to stay at home on their doctor's advice.

"Patients regain control thanks to this method," says Munneke. The course gives healthcare providers tools to teach patients how to manage pain. Pain in Motion makes training material available free of charge via


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

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