Background: Patients with chronic non-malignant pain (CNMP) conditions are known to report reduced health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The objective of this exploratory study was to compare HRQoL between patients admitted to a multidisciplinary pain centre, palliative cancer (PC) patients and national norms.
Methods: HRQoL data from 288 patients with CNMP admitted to the multidisciplinary pain centre at Trondheim University Hospital were compared with 434 patients with advanced cancer included in a trial of comprehensive palliative care in the hospital palliative medicine unit and national norms. HRQoL was assessed using the EORTC QLQ-C30. Age- and gender-adjusted norm data were calculated and compared between the two groups.
Results: Scores from both groups deviated from adjusted norm data on all scales, with poorer functioning and more symptoms. Compared with PC patients, CNMP patients reported a larger deviation (worse scores) on global quality of life, cognitive functioning, pain, sleep disturbances and financial difficulties. Deviations from norm data were similar for physical, social and emotional functioning, diarrhoea, dyspnoea and fatigue. PC patients reported worse scores on role functioning, nausea/vomiting, loss of appetite and constipation.
Conclusion: CNMP patients admitted to multidisciplinary pain centres report significantly reduced HRQoL, in addition to severe pain. They consider their HRQoL to be as poor as HRQoL reported from dying cancer patients and substantially poorer than national norms. Factors other than the biological severity of the disease seem to be of major importance for self-reported HRQoL.