The social threats of COVID-19 for people with chronic pain
The COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has changed the social environment in which people live and work, as well as the social systems they rely on.39,88 To contain the spread of coronavirus and to prepare for a dramatic increase in demand for limited hospital/medical facilities and resources, societies have enforced physical distancing measures. Consequently, there have been limitations on the use of public transportation, public spaces, and work, education, and recreational facilities.
Furthermore, access to vital, but nonurgent, healthcare services (including pain management services) has been restricted. These changes have affected the way people connect with each other, manage their health and wellbeing, and fulfil their social roles. For some, these changes may present opportunities (eg, increased time with family, normalisation of flexible working, and reduced demand for travel). For others, however, these social changes can also represent significant threats to health and wellbeing.
The negative impact of social changes prompted by the COVID-19 crisis may disproportionately affect individuals living with longterm painful conditions. Living with chronic pain can threaten an individuals’ fundamental social needs for autonomy (agency or independence), belonging (social connection), and justice (fairness).