National Pain Strategy — A Positive Step Forward

A group of pain specialists have been working behind the scenes for the past 5 years to develop a National Pain Strategy (NPS). The committee involves 6 working groups that tackled various aspects of pain care, including: population research, prevention and care, disparities, service delivery and reimbursement, professional education and training, and public awareness.

At the recent American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) meeting, held in National Harbor, Maryland in March, a number of members of the taskforce presented their findings. The presenters outlined goals and actions to help improve pain care for millions of Americans. “The report does not make specific treatment recommendations; rather it acknowledges evidence gaps and calls for further research to better understand pain in order to treat it more appropriately,” noted Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, immediate past president of AAPM and co-chair of the taskforce. “Although focused on chronic pain, the NPS addresses the continuum of pain from acute to chronic, and across the life span from pediatric through geriatric populations.”

The NPS recommends investing public resources to prevent pain, create access to evidence-based and high-quality pain assessment and treatment services, and improve self-management abilities among those with pain. Self-management is critical, noted the report. “For other chronic diseases including diabetes, COPD, congestive heart failure, etc. significant efforts to provide self-management options have been made for each. The same must be true for those with chronic pain,” noted a press release from the AAPM.

Another vital aspect addressed in the NPS report is the stigma people with pain endure from the health care system and society as a whole. Through better public and professional education, this misconception can be changed and the stigma associated with chronic pain will be reduced.

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