Does Media Drive Public Policy and Harm People with Chronic Pain?

Does media fairly and accurately report chronic pain issues or illegal opioid use/abuse? A national survey of media by PAINS Project reveals 63% believe that chronic pain is a major cause of opioid substance abuse, yet more (91%) perceive opioid substance abuse as a serious public health problem than chronic pain (81%).  Almost half don’t know if chronic pain sufferers experience more opioid overdoses or deaths from opioid addiction than other users of opioids.  Journalists with personal chronic pain experience (27%): (1) report this influences their coverage of the topic; and (2) are less likely to associate chronic pain with opioid use/abuse.

Where does media reach for information?  Mostly experts and federal agencies.  Patients stories are used to illustrate examples of information from experts.

The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association is concerned about

  • • experts and federal agencies who influence public support through media for their recent and developing public policies that lack scientific evidence which cause harm to people with chronic high impact pain, and
  • • media naivete increasing and perpetuating incorrect information about the relationship between chronic pain and opioid use/abuse

Research suggests that chronic pain cases surpass opioid dependency cases by 50 to 1. The opioid epidemic receives more media coverage, as well as being a more politicized issue than chronic pain.

PAINS (Pain Action Alliance to Implement a National Strategy) recently launched No Longer Silent, a multi-faceted campaign designed to focus on reconstructing the media narrative about chronic pain. The Center for Excellence in Health Communication to Underserved Populations (CEHCUP) at the University of Kansas – School of Journalism recently released a "Survey of Health Journalists about Reporting on Chronic Pain." The survey assesses current attitudes, beliefs and opinions of healthcare reporters and editors on chronic pain, opioid addiction and the relationship between them. Download the Abstract

PAINS’ No Longer Silent initiative is designed to change the current norms, beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of the public about the disease of chronic pain and to establish and promote comprehensive pain management as the standard of care. Their objective is to:

  • • Change the beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of media about chronic pain as a disease
  • • Increase media coverage and support evidence based reporting of chronic pain
  • • Change the beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of the media about the relationship between chronic pain and the opioid epidemic
  • • Decrease media coverage that conflates the opioid epidemic with chronic pain

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Disclaimer:  Please consult with your physician or healthcare provider for health care and treatment. The information in this website is not a substitute for professional medical nor healthcare advice.