The Societal Impact of Pain platform was preceded by various political initiatives launched by the pain science community in the previous decade. Clinicians and researchers were aware that pain and its burden on individuals and society was poorly understood. As pain science evolved, the concept of pain itself being a focus for policymakers became a realistic advocacy goal. Parallel to these developments, the scientific concept of ‘pain as a condition in its own right’ grew in prominence. What we now call ‘chronic primary pain’ allowed campaigners to address pain not simply as a comorbidity but as a complex phenomenon requiring special consideration.

In 2001, EFIC published its Declaration on Pain which called on national governments and the EU Institutions to increase the level of awareness of the societal impact of pain. The Declaration was highlighted at the European Parliament with support from prominent MEPs at the time such as Françoise Grossetete.


  1. Acknowledge that pain is an important factor limiting the quality of life and should be a top priority of the national health care system.
  2. Activate patients, their family, relatives and care-givers through the availability of information and access to pain diagnosis and management.
  3. Raise awareness of the medical, financial and social impact that pain and its management has on the patients, their families, care-givers, employers, and the healthcare system.
  4. Raise awareness of the importance of prevention, diagnosis and management of pain amongst all healthcare professionals, notably through further education.
  5. Strengthen pain research (basic science, clinical, epidemiological) as a priority in the EU framework programme and in equivalent research road maps at national and EU levels, addressing the societal impact of pain and the burden of chronic pain on the health, social, and employment sectors.
  6. Establish an EU platform for the exchange, comparison and benchmarking of best practices between member states on pain management and its impact on society.
  7. Use the EU platform to monitor trends in pain management, services and, outcomes and provide guidelines to harmonise effective levels of pain management to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

In response to limited EU policy action over the following 10 years, the Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) Platform was developed in 2009, initially as a partnership between EFIC and the pharmaceutical company Grunenthal GmbH. EFIC provided the scientific guidance for the project and Grunenthal provided the logistical support. Over the years they were joined by Pain Alliance Europe (PAE), the patients organisation representing the diverse community of pain patients across Europe. Today, the project is led by EFIC and PAE with Grunenthal only sponsoring the project, along with other companies such as Pfizer and GSK.

While SIP has evolved over the years, some of the same themes have been relevant throughout:

  • The importance of chronic pain as a complex phenomenon requiring special consideration, and even in some cases as a condition in its own right.
  • The need to consider pain as a quality indicator within healthcare systems, including more routine measurement of pain.
  • The substantial economic burden of pain, as well as the significant impact on patients, families, carers and society as a whole.
  • The need to consider pain as a dimension of adjacent policies such as those on chronic diseases, cancer and mental health.
  • The need for governments to expand pain research and pain education to improve understanding and patient care.

Over the years, EFIC have analysed the extent to which national governments have made progress towards an adequate policy framework for pain patients. Since 2019, SIP itself has become more national in scope, with national platforms based on the European SIP model working towards shared goals. Policy change is usually a long and challenging process, but today SIP is making inroads in actual policy development. Hopefully, we will soon have significant achievements to speak of that transform the lives of those living with pain.