Singaporeans’ pain costs economy USD 6.2 billion each year

The 2017 GSK Global Pain Index, commissioned by GSK Consumer Healthcare surveyed 19,000 adults across 32 countries including Singapore, examined the impact of body and head pain, from workplace productivity to relationships with family and friends.

-        85% of Singaporeans have suffered from head and body pain, with nearly half (42%) suffering weekly from body pain

-        1 in 2 suffer in silence, more commonly men (61%) than women (46%); one-third delay pain relief by weeks or even longer

-        6 in 10 parents believe that pain makes it harder for them to listen and help their children with everyday tasks

-        Globally, Singaporeans have one of the lowest levels of knowledge around pain relief medicines

The 2017 GSK Global Pain Index, commissioned by GSK Consumer Healthcare surveyed 19,000 adults across 32 countries including Singapore, examined the impact of body and head pain, from workplace productivity to relationships with family and friends. The findings revealed that Southeast Asian countries rank amongst the highest in the world for sufferers living with everyday pain.

 “The 2017 GSK Global Pain Index shows that pain affects almost everyone. This hampers our ability to live and work longer and lead a holistic life. As a worldwide leader in pain relief, the need drives us to better understand people’s pain and be a part of the solution to help reduce its social and economic impact on people across the world,” explains Heather Pelier, Southeast Asia Area Marketing Director for Pain Relief and Respiratory, GSK Consumer Healthcare.

 Interestingly, the survey brought to light shocking facts around how Singaporeans ignore, power through or delay treatment of their pain, which comes at a cost to the economy of approximately 2% of the nation’s GDP every year due to missed work days and reduced workplace productivity.

 Professor Eric Finkelstein, Health Services Research Program, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, commented [DN1] “Everyday pain has a significant emotional and economic impact on people’s lives and the economy. The survey uncovers that pain conditions are estimated to be costing the Southeast Asian economies, USD 44.6 billion in productivity losses. In Singapore, the productivity losses are estimated at USD 6.2 billion (SGD 8.4 billion) annually.”

For a nation of academic achievers, Singaporeans surprisingly claim to have some of the lowest levels of knowledge around the medicines available to treat their pain, including dosing (24%), potential risks (15%), side effects (15%), ingredients (11%) or interactions with other medicines (10%)6. Nearly 2 in 3 Singaporeans tend to self-diagnose their pain, and treat half of their head or body pains with non-prescription pain relief options. This is worrying, given the low levels of education around pain relief and the tendency for Singaporeans to self-diagnose their pain. The good news is that 6 in 10 Singaporeans are interested in learning more about their medicines.

According to Dr Yeo Sow Nam, Director of The Pain Specialist, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital,[DN2]  “Pain is very disruptive, not only for the individual sufferer, but extends to nearly all aspects of their lives. While headaches, body aches and migraines might not seem to have serious consequences, the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index shows that if not managed effectively, pain can have a cumulative impact. Despite the availability of many suitable and effective options for treating pain, it is concerning that Singaporeans tend to suffer in silence for longer than they should, causing a huge burden both at a national and individual level especially for those who suffer from pain weekly. It is important that people take effective steps to address their pain.”

 GSK Consumer Healthcare will be actively working with healthcare professionals and consumers to ensure that pain sufferers have access to clear, reliable information on choosing medicines and understanding dosage, reading labels and safe storage and proper disposal of medicines.

Pain also impacts relationships, causing a damaging ripple effect that reaches far beyond the person experiencing pain; 50% say their pain prevents them from going out with friends, and for those that do, more than half (57%) say they tend to fade into the background. For parents with children under twelve, the statistics are even more grim; 77% believe they could be a better parent without pain and 63% believe their pain makes it harder for them to listen and help their children with everyday tasks. Sadly, 77% believe they have less patience with their children when in pain.

Heather continued: “In the coming years, we will continue to leverage our 160 years heritage in science, global footprint and unique partnerships with retailers, advocacy groups, doctors, pharmacists, policy makers and regulators to drive scalable change within communities to relieve the social and economic impact of pain, enabling them to do more, feel better and live longer.”

 Visit for further information on existing GSK initiatives to help reduce the impact of physical pain as well as newly launched programs.





The Global Pain Index research was completed by Edelman Intelligence, a global insights and consultancy firm. Interviews were conducted online between 14 September and 2 November 2016 with controlled samples to ensure a nationally representative sample of the online population in each country surveyed (age, gender and region). In total, Edelman Intelligence spoke to 19,000+ respondents in 32 markets (Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK and USA). A minimum of 500 interviews were completed in all countries except in the US, UK, Germany, Sweden and Australia (1,000 interviews). 


GSK Consumer Healthcare is an associate of GlaxoSmithKline plc. U.K., one of world’s largest consumer healthcare companies. We have a heritage that goes back over 160 years. Our purpose is to help more people around the world to do more, feel better and live longer with everyday healthcare products.  Our goal is to build a global, growing business - we call a Fast Moving Consumer Healthcare (FMCH) company - dedicated to everyday healthcare with all of the scientific expertise and quality guarantees that demands, working at the speed and with the genuine consumer understanding the modern world expects.                  

GSK Consumer Healthcare globally owns some of the world’s best loved healthcare brands, successful in over 100 countries. These include Sensodyne, Voltaren, Theraflu, Parodontax, Panadol, Polident, Otrivin, Horlicks and Physiogel. SensodyneTM, VoltarenTM, TherafluTM, ParadontaxTM,  PanadolTM, PolidentTM, OtrivinTM, HorlicksTM and PhysiogelTM.