National Pain Awareness Week

About Pain Awareness Week

Why: The Problem

  • 17% to 31% of the general community report chronic pain.
  • 50% of hospitalized patients report acute pain of moderate to severe intensity.
  • People in pain miss work, spend time in hospital and visit the doctor often.
  • Pain is almost unmentioned in medical training.
  • Severe shortage of acute pain services and pain clinics in hospital settings.
  • In-hospital patients with pain from non-surgical conditions are less likely to have
    their pain taken seriously enough to be treated.
  • Outpatients who report pain of chronic duration to health care professionals are often dismissed, or are accused of malingering.
  • There is a large gap between what is known and what is practiced in the treatment of all kinds of pain

Who: The Canadian Pain Coalition (CPC)

  • Formed in May 2002
  • A partnership of eight patient groups (number is growing), plus individual patients from across the country who, among them, live with different types of pain.
  • Linked with the Canadian Pain Society, a 900-member professional organization composed of clinicians and researchers.
  • Mission: To promote sustained change and improvement in pain management in Canada.

What: Overall Goals

  • Declare National Pain Awareness Week.
  • Saturate media coverage
  • Get more pain content in professional curricula
  • Create additional pain treatment facilities
  • Lobby for changes to third party payments.
  • Increase funding for research on pain

What: Specific Research Goals

  • New treatments for intractable pain; about 15% of pain conditions do not respond to any current therapies
  • Understanding how chronic pain develops at a molecular level > new prevention techniques
  • Determining best method for knowledge translation into practice
  • Identifying barriers to adequate pain management and interventions to change it
  • Better methods to measure pain in vulnerable nonverbal groups such as infants, elderly with dementia, cognitively impaired

How: Increase Awareness

  • Media Public Service Announcements
  • Community information sessions
  • Banners across the country
  • Pain manifesto in hospitals
  • Fundraising GALA
  • Corporate Support


  • Professional schools to include more pain in the curriculum
  • Provincial governments to increase pain services
  • Federal government for research monies, including a centre or network


  • Buy a ticket for the GALA fundraising dinner; better still… buy a table!
  • Make a cash donation to the CPC.
  • Donate an item for the GALA silent auction!

A Motion to Declare Pain Awareness Week

(Name of MP)

May 2004

Dear Honourable Member,

This letter seeks your support for a federal government motion to declare the first week in November as National Pain Awareness Week. This motion arose from a patient-led initiative in collaboration with health professionals and scientists who have formed the Canadian Pain Coalition.

Pain is one of this nation’s most serious health problems—it is our silent epidemic. Approximately 15% or 6 million people suffer chronic pain that interferes with quality of life and productivity, and places a huge burden on our already strained health care system. More than half of hospitalized patients in Canada suffer significant acute pain; under-treatment of acute pain is a predictor of chronic pain.

The goals of the Canadian Pain Coalition are: 1) to raise public awareness of the importance of the problem of pain, and 2) to educate health care professionals to treat pain according to Best Practice standards. By having an annual Pain Awareness Week, we can maximize attention to help address and meet these goals through various activities. Pain Awareness week is just the beginning, but a crucially important beginning, to changing the picture of pain in Canada.

The first week in November does not interfere with other initiatives and indeed complements some already existing events. In the province of British Columbia the month of November is declared Pain Month. September is Pain Month in the United States of America and there are motions in place to declare October as Pain Month in the European Union.

When this motion comes before the House, please support it. If you would like more information about the burden of pain in Canada or about the Canadian Pain Coalition please visit

Thank you.


Organization (if applicable)