Persistent pain in children, adolescents and young adults is a serious global health and economic problem, with care fragmented across and between primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare providers. Australian epidemiological data suggests 13% of 0-24year olds live with persistent pain, with at least 3% of the CAYA population experiencing moderate-severe and disabling pain. There is evidence that for up to 75% of youth living with persistent pain, pain and psychological disorders continue into adulthood with long-term consequences and costs for individual and the broader societal community. In 2020, the Statewide Persistent Pain Clinical Network identified that there was a need for more intensive multidisciplinary rehabilitation-oriented pain management services for CAYA, with close to 50,000 young people in 2018 experiencing moderate-severe disabling pain in Queensland.
The current evidence base also makes it clear that in Australia and internationally there are insufficient services and trained providers to manage the demand. There is one paediatric persistent pain management service in the state, treating approximately 200 of the most complex pain patients per year from the paediatric and adolescent age groups. 'Adult' pain management services who see adolescents and young adults have treating healthcare professionals who do not usually have formal training in working with youth from a developmental and family systems based perspective, are low confidence with limited resources to manage the complex biopsychosocial issues with which these young people present. In addition, it has been identified nationally, and most recently in Queensland Health, that adolescent and young adult-focused healthcare is very limited for many youth and families with complex and chronic conditions (Clinical Senate, 2021), and time and resources is required to build effective Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) care within the organisation in conjunction with youth consumers.