161 consecutive referrals to the Pain Centre at the Institute of Neurosurgery in Milan, Italy, with at least a 6 month history of chronic pain were recruited onto this controlled study designed to evaluate the degree to which their condition impacts on quality of life. A further 90 healthy patients were entered onto the trial having been matched for age and sex.

A quality of life score was then assessed for all the subjects using the WHO Quality of Life Questionnaire - 100 form and scores were also recorded for pain intensity, psychological and personality variables.

All chronic pain patients showed a significant reduction in quality of life scores and in their self-perception of pain, as compared to the healthy controls. Their scores in all the remaining areas under assessment were also lower than for healthy volunteers. Patients with generalised, widespread pain such as fibromyalgia and lower back pain, showed a more pronounced reduction in quality of life that those suffering with more localised pain such as headache or neuropathic pain.

The trial underlines again the significant impact that chronic pain inflicts on patients' daily living but also emphasises how useful quality of life assessments can be as an overall indicator of therapeutic success and clinical intervention.