Pain Awareness Month 2021

August 19th, 2021

Pain Awareness Month 2021

The World Health Assembly (WHA), a subsection of the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared September as Pain Awareness Month.

Throughout the month of September, many organisations around the globe contribute and raise awareness of chronic pain.  This year Chronic Pain Ireland is once again supporting this campaign and our 2021 theme is Chronic Pain and the importance of connection in addressing social isolation.

Addressing our members via our monthly e-zine, the President of the European Pain Federation, Dr Brona Fullen was delighted to launch Chronic Pain Ireland's 2021 Pain Awareness Campaign.  "The theme of ‘chronic pain and the importance of connection in addressing social isolation’ has never been more important as the world grapples with the COVID19 pandemic.  

Social isolation or the lack of social contact or ties experienced by people is well known to be a risk factor for poorer health and increased healthcare costs. Whether it’s the persistent pain that leads to social isolation and loneliness, or the social isolation that exacerbates pain the impact is profound. The biopsychosocial model to understand and manage pain acknowledges the importance of the social role that is intertwined with the physical and psychological elements. Social elements support those self-managing their persistent pain every day with whatever they value as being important; being physically active, returning to work or volunteering or managing their mood.

It is timely to draw attention to social isolation as a risk factor for health not only at an organisational level, but also at a community and public health level. Developing strategies and evidence based interventions to combat social isolation will ultimately improve our populations health and well-being!"

CPI Chairperson Martina Phelan added “It is crucial that we devote attention to the assessment, mitigation, and prevention of the sources of social threat for people with chronic pain.  It is now more important than ever to develop strategies and evidence based interventions that combat chronic pain and social isolation so as to improve health and well-being”.

In Europe 1 in 5 adults suffer with chronic pain. In Ireland that figure is higher.  In 2011 Researchers from School of Psychology & Centre of Pain Research, NUIG Galway found that in Ireland 35.5% of adults in Ireland suffer with chronic pain.  That's 2 in 5 people. In those aged between 18 and 24 the proportion was 1 in 5 people, those aged 65 and over it was as many as 3 in 5.

  • 42% have chronic pain more than 5 years
  • 15% have clinically relevant depression as a result compared to 2.8% living without chronic pain.
  • 12% unable to work or reduced work hours and are 3 times more likely to be unemployed due to their chronic pain.

Research suggests that social isolation as a result of chronic pain is responsible for a greater reliance of GP services, decreased quality of life and physical function.

Reported social issues that accompany life with chronic pain include:

  • Stigma – pain is invisible, feelings of being judged, misunderstood, a burden.
  • Relationships – challenges and in particular intimacy
  • Impact on mental health

Research on the impact of Covid-19 concludes that the current pandemic has exacerbated existing sources of social threat for people with chronic pain.

Chronic pain and support

Support can come in a variety of forms be it someone at the end of a support line, advice or help from someone else living with pain, health assistance from your healthcare teams or financial assistance from various government departments.  This support can allow you to connect with others and reduces the impact of isolation, stigma etc., and puts you back in the driving seat.

Here at Chronic Pain Ireland our support group can result in lifelong friendships, safe and relevant information, workshops with tools and strategies for managing pain,  opportunities to learn new skills, share experiences and try new techniques all in a safe and empathetic environment surrounded by people who truly understand what living with chronic pain is like. 

Throughout Pain Awareness Month, Chronic Pain Ireland will be holding a number of events, talks and workshops addressing social isolation.  Why not check out some of the events coming up throughout the month (further details below) or become a member (see here).

You can play your part during September by using the hashtag #PainAwarenessMonth.

Below is a selection of events taking place during the first two weeks of Pain Awareness Month.  More events will be added throughout the month:


  • Chronic Pain Toolkit Taster Session 31st August 2021. Register here
  • Living Well with Chronic Pain (HSE) 7-week evening programme commencing 6th September 2021. Register here
  • Living Well with Chronic Pain (HSE) 7-week day programme commencing 30th October 2021. Register here 
  • Chronic Pain Toolkit Workshop – 14th September 2021. Register here
  • Members Meeting - 15th September 2021.
  • Tackling social isolation in chronic pain - is there a role for Community-based Physical activity?  - 21st September. Register here     
  • Chronic Pain, Mental Health & Wellbeing - 23rd September 2021. Register here
  • Living Well Building Better Caregivers (HSE) 7-week programmes commencing 29th September. Register here
  • Living Well with Chronic Illness (HSE) 6-week programmes, various dates nationwide.  For more information see here

Webinar: Employment & Pain webinar (SIP & EU_OSHA) – 7th September 2021. Register here

Networking: Chronic Pain Ireland Member’s Coffee Morning – 15th September 2021


  • Chronic Pain Ireland's Virtual Walk for Pain Awareness Month.  Your say, your way. For more information, to take part or donate click here
  • Nikki's Youghal Walk for Chronic Pain Ireland -  4th September 2021. See here for more information and to donate.

Fundraising: Are you or your family part of a club or society that holds fundraisers?  Are you planning to hold a fundraiser during Pain Awareness Month to help Chronic Pain Ireland continue to provide our support services?  If so, please get in touch.

You can also get involved by liking, following Chronic Pain Ireland on Facebook and Twitter (@ChronicPainIRL) to stay up to date and share our posts to help further our cause.

Consider Volunteering during Pain Awareness Month.  Would you be willing to give an interview to media either press or radio?  If so, get in touch.


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