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Project #89:
Has COVID-19 Disrupted Chronic Pain Management in England?

  • Type: Research / Service Evaluation
  • Topic areas: Other/indirect impacts of COVID on health/healthcare

Pain management is one of the central elements of primary healthcare. Prior research suggests that between one third and one half of all UK adults may be suffering from noncancer-related painful conditions that last more than three months (i.e., chronic pain). The high prevalence of chronic pain (CP) and associated costs of around £12 billion per year to the UK economy warrant a closer look at the impact of COVID-19 on CP management. Longitudinal data from March 2019 to March 2022 are analysed to determine if patients who were treated for CP in March 2020 experienced changes in long-term prescribing (4 or more within 12 months) for controlled analgesics, a shift to stronger/weaker pain medication, as well as treatments for dug dependence or misuse management in acute hospital settings. CP patients are a potentially vulnerable group and it is important to understand if and how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted pain management.


  • Study leads: Dominik Piehlmaier
  • Organisation: University of Oxford and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine