Clinicians’ understanding of pain and their pain management skills vary widely because there is no educational framework.
Expectations for consistent, comprehensive pain management education for new health professionals, including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, and pharmacists, have been developed by University of California, Davis researchers, who followed an Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendation.
Chronic pain affects an estimated 100 million American adults-more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes mellitus combined-according to the IOM.
The researchers suggested that although more Americans are coping with chronic pain than ever before, clinicians’ understanding of pain and their pain management skills vary widely because there is no educational framework. With a team of international experts representing various health professions, they identified the desired skills and knowledge new health professionals must possess to best care for patients who experience pain. These core competencies may serve as a foundation for the development of comprehensive pain management curricula for early learners in the health professions, they noted.
The current state of educational content for pain management in schools of medicine and nursing often is inadequate, said research leader Scott Fishman, MD, who added that adopting basic expectations for pain management education is a critical step toward preparing more health care professionals to address pain effectively.
Identification of a foundation that supports consistent, early education of pain management throughout all the health professions will improve clinicians’ ability to address complex health issues as well as boost collaboration and teamwork, the authors reported. Health professionals working together to develop basic pain management skills gain multiple perspectives on a complex topic, noted research leader Heather M. Young, PhD, RN.
The framework for pain management education was the result of work that included a 29-member Expert Summit for Interprofessional Consensus on Pain Management in August 2012. The final set of core competencies cover the following key areas:
• Multidimensional nature of pain: What is pain?
• Assessment and measurement: How is pain recognized?
• Management of pain: How is pain relieved?
• Clinical conditions: How does context influence pain management?
More details about the project, the core competencies, and the summit participants are available here.
The program is described in the article Core Competencies for Pain Management: Results of an Interprofessional Consensus Summit, scheduled for publication in the July issue of Pain Medicine.