NIH Expands Pain Management Training

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • In an effort to improve pain management training for health care professionals, the National Institutes of Health Pain Consortium announced that it has selected 11 health professional schools to be designated as Centers of Excellence in Pain Education (CoEPEs). The CoEPEs will act as hubs for the development, evaluation, and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools to enhance and improve how health care professionals are taught about pain and its treatment.


    "Virtually all health professionals are called upon to help patients suffering from pain," said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "These new centers will translate current research findings about pain management to fill what have been recognized as gaps in curricula so clinicians in all fields can work with their patients to make better and safer choices about pain treatment."

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    The 11 schools chosen to be Centers of Excellence in Pain Education are:

    • University of Washington, Seattle

    • University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia

    • Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

    • University of Rochester, N.Y.

    • University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

    • Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston

    • University of Alabama at Birmingham

    • Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine, Philadelphia

    • University of California, San Francisco

    • University of Maryland, Baltimore

    • University of Pittsburgh


    Dr. Story C. Landis, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) and chair of the consortium noted that all of these schools recognized the need for a more coordinated approach to the treatment of pain. "We are confident that these 11 centers will lead the way in improving pain education for health care professionals, and ultimately, the quality of care for people who suffer from chronic pain."


    Currently, pain treatment is not taught extensively in many medical schools, which leaves many doctors and other health care professionals ill-equipped to treat their chronic pain patients. The curricula developed by the CoEPEs will be aimed at advancing the assessment, diagnosis, and safe treatment of a wide variety of pain conditions while minimizing the abuse of opioid pain relievers.


    Types of pain of particular interest to the NIH Pain Consortium are rehabilitation pain, arthritis and musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, and headache pain. In addition, the curricula will teach about the pathophysiology and pharmacology of pain and its treatment, the latest research in complementary and integrative pain management, factors that contribute to both under- and over-prescribing of pain medications, and how pain manifests itself differently by gender, in children, in older adults and in diverse populations.


    NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D., a member of the consortium’s executive committee, said, "While opioid pain medications have improved the quality of life for millions who suffer from pain, they can also produce harmful consequences, including addiction. These new CoEPEs can help prevent negative outcomes by designing curricula that promote appropriate screening and management of chronic pain patients, along with education about the risks of prescription drug abuse."


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    My Thoughts...


    I am cautiously optimistic about this announcement. There is no doubt that much improvement is needed in educating doctors and other health care professionals about pain management, so I'm very happy to hear that steps are being taken to rectify that situation.


    I do have some concerns when it comes to the subject of opioids. I just hope they will give adequate attention to teaching physicians how to safely prescribe opioids for chronic pain patients who need them. I hope they don't try to scare doctors away from prescribing opioids when they are appropriate.


    Overall, I think this is a very good thing. More education on pain management is long overdue and I applaud the NIH efforts in that direction.




    NIH selects 11 Centers of Excellence in Pain Education.” NIH News. National Institutes of Health. 21 May 2012. Press release.


Published On: May 30, 2012