85% of Malaysians suffer pain in silence

09 Sep 2020 / 10:06 H.

COMMISSIONED by GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, the latest Global Pain Index in Malaysia study has revealed that more than 85% of Malaysians experienced pain last year, with more than 60% of them choosing to delay treatment or not treat their pain at all.

The study surveyed 19,000 respondents from 18 to 65+ years of age across 19 countries, including 1,000 Malaysian respondents.

It also discovered that a significant number of Malaysians felt there is a need to persevere through pain (80%), even though 32% of Malaysians experience pain on a weekly basis and 53% are in pain for at least several hours.

“The numbers are pretty significant. It correlates with the Ministry of Health’s National Health and Morbidity Survey (2019) which reported 35.1% of adults aged 18 years and above have low health literacy.

“Given the data presented in this study, it is very important to provide accessible and easy-to-digest health information with verified sources on the right channels to empower and improve the community’s health literacy,” said Bryan Wong, general manager of GSK Consumer Healthcare Malaysia.

Delaying treatment is a common behaviour among Malaysians, where more than half choose to wait rather than treating their pain immediately (57%).

The results also showed that 31% of Malaysians avoid taking medication, some worried about dependency (29%) and even side effects (25%) from pain medication.

Shawn Roy, SEA GSK Insight Lead, said, “Research has shown that long periods of unrelieved pain can lead to adverse psychological and physical complications. In fact, the GPI 2020 showed 67% of Malaysians believed that pain decreases their quality of life – it immobilises them from being able to focus, limiting their ability to be productive or sociable.

“This effect of delayed or untreated pain poses a negative impact not only on the patient’s day-to-day lifestyle (72%); but it also affects society and the country’s economy. The Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) Man-Days Lost and Absenteeism Survey 2019 found that more than 10.7 million days were lost due to sick leaves.”

When it comes to choosing treatments to relieve pain, Malaysians will take four to five steps to treat their pain on an average, favouring rest over immediate treatment. Surprisingly, 37% of Malaysians choose not to treat their pain and would rather live with it if it is not severe.

On the contrary, parents are under pressure to treat and deal with their pain quickly as compared to non-parents; they are more likely to take medication (52%), seek advice from healthcare professionals (46%) and seek information about how to treat pain effectively (36%).

“The study has revealed that 7 in 10 parents found their ability to care for their children are affected while they are in pain, with more than half of them (56%) believe it also impacts those around them as well. This relates even more for parents who are currently working from home, under the constraints of the recovery movement control order (RMCO) while coping with the ‘new normal’.

“Parents are wearing multiple hats simultaneously, from juggling workload to meeting deadlines, to taking care of their family, children, and managing household chores,” added Shawn.

Recognising the gap and low health literacy level in Malaysia, GSK Consumer Healthcare Malaysia joined forces with Watsons Malaysia to roll out ‘Know Your Medicine, Find the Right Relief’ beginning September on social media, digital and broadcast platforms, Watsons e-Commerce portal and physical stores across the country. This effort aims to educate and increase Malaysians’ access to medicine knowledge which will help in their pain management journey and enables enhancement of the quality of life of the overall population.

GSK Consumer Healthcare Malaysia will continue to encourage and promote a greater level of health literacy by sharing the latest public health guidance through relevant networks and working with healthcare professionals, retailers, and consumers in ensuring that sufferers have access to reliable information to manage their pain.

$!Shawn Roy.
Shawn Roy.

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