An update on resources, procedures and healthcare provision in pain units: A survey of spanish practitioners

Mar Polo-Santos, Sebastián Videla-Cés, Concha Pérez-Hernández, Víctor Mayoral-Rojals, Mª Victoria Ribera-Canudas, Antonio Sarría-Santamera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multidisciplinary pain treatment units are recommended to provide comprehensive diagnosis and treatment of chronic pain, a complex clinical syndrome and one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. The objective of this study was to provide updated results on the situation of pain treatment units in Spain and to determine compliance with recommendations proposed by de Spanish Ministry of Health (SMH). A cross-sectional, prospective, multicenter survey was performed, collecting data on resources, procedures and healthcare provision. Between March and May 2019, the Spanish Pain Society sent an invitation letter to 183 pain units with a link to the questionnaire. Sixty-nine units from 13 regions agreed to participate. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain criteria, only 12 units were classified as multidisciplinary pain centers. Most (95.7%) were in hospitals, 82.6% from the public sector, and 46.4% had protocols to coordinate with primary care. Interviewees rated the adequacy of facilities at 6.3 (from 0 to 10). Moreover, 67% of interviewees found that there were insufficient staff, with no mental health professionals, physical therapists or social workers in 49.3%, 87.0% and 97.1% units, respectively. Only 24 pain units had a day hospital, 44.9% offered psychological interventions, and 79.7% supported teaching and research activities. Results suggest that a small proportion of Spanish pain units meet the national standards for multidisciplinary pain units proposed by the SMH.

Original languageEnglish
Article number451
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Assessment
  • Multidisciplinary care
  • Pain unit
  • Questionnaire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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