Chronic pain

One in five Australians, including children and adolescents, lives with chronic pain.


For consumers, check out Chronic pain explained

Chronic pain

Key points

  • Many people with chronic pain report that their pain interferes with daily activities. Use a validated tool to assess pain and function.
  • Follow a multidisciplinary 'whole person' approach to treatment that targets biopsychosocial factors.
  • Engage patients in managing their pain and work with each patient to set functional goals.
  • Use analgesics as either an adjunct to non-pharmacological strategies or in small doses for a short time.
  • There is little evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain, particularly in the long term.
  • Monitor the patient's physical and mental condition as well as other areas of function such as ability to drive and participate in activities.


MedicineWise News: Chronic pain

    <img src=

Evidence suggests that medicines are overused to treat chronic pain; guidelines recommend medicines only as an adjunct to non-pharmacological options.

Find out more about reasons not to prescribe opioids and about other management strategies used by people with chronic pain.


Dr Malcolm Hogg on chronic non-cancer pain

In this 2-part video, Dr Malcolm Hogg, Head of Pain Management Services at Royal Melbourne Hospital, addresses important aspects of managing chronic pain.


Australian Prescriber: Principles of prescribing for persistent non-cancer pain

    <img src=

Milton L Cohen
Aust Prescr 2013;36:113-5 

Chronic pain is a major cause of distress and disability in the community. Patients need to be comprehensively assessed to determine the biomedical, psychological, social and cultural contributions to their pain.

Read the full article


Codeine-related deaths: a cause for concern

    <img src=

Codeine-related deaths in Australia more than doubled from 2000 to 2009. This is a serious issue for doctors & pharmacists.

Find out more about a 2015 study investigating this worrying trend.


Accidental fentanyl exposure in children can be fatal

    <img src=

Infants and children are at higher risk of accidental exposure to fentanyl, a highly potent opioid used to treat pain. Fentanyl patches are particularly dangerous.

Read more about appropriate use of fentanyl patches, including application, storage and disposal.


Evaluation: GP survey results for Chronic pain program

We surveyed GPs who participated in the NPS MedicineWise Chronic pain: opioids and beyond visiting program to find out what they learned and whether they thought it was worthwhile.

Find out what our respondents had to say.


CPD options

Consolidate your knowledge about chronic pain, brush up on current guidelines and practices and earn CPD points through our learning activities.

For students

Management tools

Opioid prescribing decision aid

This decision aid is based on the Tasmanian Department of Health's 8-step checklist for use at any stage when managing patients on opioids.

Opioid prescribing decision aid

Date published : 27 November 2015

Assessing patients for possible opioid treatment

The Victorian Department of Health promotes this screening tool to predict which individuals may develop aberrant drug-related behaviours when prescribed opioids for chronic pain.

Pain Management Network

The NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation developed this website to help patients gain a better understanding of their pain. It also helps health professionals to better understand and manage patients with chronic pain.

Chronic pain fact sheet

Chronic pain is pain that occurs most days of the week, for at least a 3-month period. About one in five Australians suffer from chronic pain and it most commonly occurs in older people.

Chronic pain: what can I do? 

Date published : 23 July 2015

Biopsychosocial management of chronic pain

This management plan is designed to help you provide advice to your patients on the biopsychosocial approach to managing their chronic pain. Use this tool to facilitate a discussion with patients about the importance of incorporating non-pharmacological strategies into their pain management.