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Chronic non-cancer pain in primary care: an Italian cross-sectional study

  • Arianna Camilloni1
  • Giulio Nati1
  • Paolo Maggiolini2
  • Antonio Romanelli2
  • Gianni Carbone2
  • Diana Giannarelli3
  • Irene Terrenato3
  • Maria Grazia De Marinis4
  • Adriano Rossi5
  • Daniela D’Angelo6
  • Rosaria Ferrara7
  • Laura Iacorossi8
  • Antonella Paladini9
  • Giustino Varrassi10
  • Gianfranco Tarsitani1,†
  • Roberto Latina2,†

1Sapienza University,Rome, Italy

2School of Nursing & Midwifery, Sapienza University, AO San Camillo-Forlanini Hospital, Gianicolense n.87, 00152 Rome, Italy

3Biostatistic and Bioinformatic Unit, IRCCS Regina Elena National Cancer Institute,Rome, Italy

4Nursing Research Unit Campus Bio-Medico University,Rome, Italy

5School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milano-Bicocca,Milan, Italy

6Tor Vergata University,Rome, Italy

7Department of Psychiatry CHUV, Faculty of Biology and Medicine,Lousanne, Switzerland

8School of Nursing, Sapienza University, IRCCS Regina Elena National Cancer Institute,Rome, Italy

9MESVA Università dell’Aquila,Italy

10Paolo Procacci Foundation, Roma, Italy

DOI: 10.22514/sv.2020.16.0111 Vol.17,Issue 2,March 2021 pp.54-62

Published: 08 March 2021

*Corresponding Author(s): Antonio Romanelli E-mail:
*Corresponding Author(s): Roberto Latina E-mail:

† These authors contributed equally.


Chronic non-cancer pain is a complex health condition that affects more than a quarter of the Italian population who mainly refers to general practitioners and primary care for their treatment. There are little information on the epidemiological and clinical characteristics and types of treatments for these patients who suffer from chronic pain. The aim of the study was to provide epidemiological and clinical information about patients with chronic non-cancer pain who refers to GPs for their treatment. An observational, multicentre, cross-sectional study was carried out using retrospectively reviewed clinical records from 29 GPs. Some pharmacoeconomic aspects were also investigated. A total of 1,007 patients who had chronic pain were selected for the study. Chronic pain was more common in women than in men (ratio 2.7 : 1) (P = 0.002). With regard to incomes, the women earned less than the men (P = 0.017). The chronic pain was musculoskeletal (73.4%), mixed (21.4%), neuropathic (4.9%) and visceral (0.3%). More women than men had pain in two or more sites, and 33.5% of the patients reported more than one diagnosis that related to chronic pain. The general practitioners had prescribed nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for 71.8% of the cases, opioids for 16.9%, adjuvants for 9.0% and acetaminophen for 2.4%, and about pharmacoeconomic aspects, the total cost for the sample was € 111,331.42. Primary care is the essential frontline for patients who suffer from non-cancer pain. An interdisciplinary assessment and approach should start in primary care delivery to maximize the clinical outcomes.


Primary care; Epidemiology; General Practitioner; Chronic Pain; Pain Management; Italy; General Population

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Arianna Camilloni,Giulio Nati,Paolo Maggiolini,Antonio Romanelli,Gianni Carbone,Diana Giannarelli,Irene Terrenato,Maria Grazia De Marinis,Adriano Rossi,Daniela D’Angelo,Rosaria Ferrara,Laura Iacorossi,Antonella Paladini,Giustino Varrassi,Gianfranco Tarsitani,Roberto Latina. Chronic non-cancer pain in primary care: an Italian cross-sectional study. Signa Vitae. 2021. 17(2);54-62.


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