Long term pain 'a struggle for 30%'

Conditions Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Chronic illnesses affect an estimated 800,000 people in Wales

Nearly a third of adults in Wales are struggling to cope with the pain and symptoms of long-term health conditions, according to a new study.

Those with mental health or neurological conditions were least likely to have developed ways of living with their illness.

A study of 15,687 adults has been analysed at Heriot-Watt University.

The Welsh government said it was working with charities on a patient guide for those with chronic illnesses.

The study, published in the International Journal of Cardiology and based on research in 2012, found:

  • Around 30% struggle with the mental and physical pains associated with a chronic illness
  • 10% reporting untreated depressive or anxious symptoms.
  • 20% said they had found ways of coping with their condition.

Chronic illnesses affect an estimated 800,000 people in Wales and are a growing problem for the NHS as the population gets older.

Dr Ivy Shiue, assistant professor of environmental health at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, said people who had not learnt to live with symptoms experienced worse quality of life and the risks were especially high for those with mental health conditions.

"These patients may start to lose hope and their sense of identity, ultimately leading to a feeling of fear, hopelessness and despair at their condition," she said.

CASE STUDY: Lisa Welch, from Cwmfelinfach, Caerphilly County, has suffered with depression but got help through a self-management programme and mental health charity Gofal.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionLisa Welch, of Cwmfelinfach, says she took control of her depression after 19 years

"I've had mental health problems for 19 years but it got worse. I had a bad divorce and I couldn't cope. I wouldn't get dressed, I wouldn't go out, wash or shower, it all spiralled out of control from there and it made me feel worse.

"I just didn't want to be here. But I have two boys and that kept me going."

"It was only when I had rent arrears and then I was offered help and got introduced to Gofal. Dealing with my bills with the help of my support worker was a big weight off my shoulders."

The Welsh government said people living with long-term health conditions could benefit from working with medical professionals to help manage their health and wellbeing.

"This can also help to inform them about the support available to them from both the NHS and voluntary organisations," said a spokesperson.

A guide for patients is also being developed with the Long Term Conditions Alliance Cymru.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites