by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
The current issue of the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s (NCCAM) newsletter focuses on low-back pain: research and care. Since 4 out of 5 individuals will experience low-back pain in their lives, most healthcare practitioners will be asked to treat this condition at some point. Patients, as well as healthcare practitioners are often frustrated with treatment options for low-back pain. Understanding types of complementary strategies patients may be utilizing and may not be disclosing to their physicians is helpful in exploring the full context of low-back pain.
June 22nd, 2009
by Lisa Neal Gualtieri, Ph.D., Adjunct Clinical Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
I teach Online Consumer Health and Web Strategies for Health Communication in the Health Communication Program . While this doesn’t have to do with pain per se, the Web is an important way people learn about pain and seek peer support. The Web also is used for tracking pain. I first thought about this when speaking to a Rheumatoid Arthritis group at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, when it struck me how much information about the fluctuations in pain were not available for a physician during the patients’ visits. At the same time, input challenges are presented when a patient’s pain prevents him or her from using a computer.
Twitter, which has been recently popularized by Oprah, allows “microblogging”: writing 140 character or less messages. Twitter has been used for health applications, including the charmingly-named Qwitter . Twitter is now being promoted for pain tracking as well, and a blog post provides five easy-to-follow steps for someone new to Twitter to use it for this purpose. It has the advantages of ease of use and being free; there are tools specifically designed for pain tracking but they may have a steeper learning curve. Of course, the real question is if it provides benefits to the patient through peer support or tracking.
June 9th, 2009
by Richard Glickman-Simon, MD, Director, PREP Programs
May 17, 2009 marked a major milestone in the history of PREP. The first graduates from the joint Pain Management Program between Tufts University School of Medicine (TUSM) and the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA) participated in commencement ceremonies on the Tufts undergraduate campus in Medford, MA. Established three years ago, the joint program accepts a handful of NESA students who complete coursework at both institutions simultaneously. These four students now possess two graduate degrees: a Master’s of Acupuncture from NESA and a Master’s of Science in Pain Research Education and Policy from TUSM. They are:
As far as we know, they are the only four people in the world to have earned master’s degrees from allopathic and non-allopathic institutions simultaneously. They represent what we hope will become a new breed of pain specialist; one that is trained to enhance and refine the clinical skills of a traditionally eastern practitioner with knowledge of western biomedical perspectives and practices.
It has become abundantly clear that chronic pain does not respond well – if it responds at all – to single, unilateral interventions. While strong analgesics, for example, can certainly make pain more tolerable, their notorious long-term drawbacks tend to blunt their favorable effects. A multilateral approach is the key to relieving pain while preserving overall quality of life. From their unique vantage point spanning the east/west divide, graduates of the joint program are perfectly situated to tackle the vexing complexities of pain. They’re inclusive, multidimensional perspective furnishes them with a depth of understanding and insight unmatched in the field of pain medicine. They will be innovative collaborators on the most relentlessly painful cases.
While their own interests and circumstances have already drawn them in different directions, all four graduates tell us that the joint program has prepared them to become true integrationists. They see themselves working alongside physicians, nurses, physical therapists, psychotherapists, chiropractors and others as a valued member of the team. Several would like to practice in a hospital or other allopathic setting, one wants to become involved in clinical research, and another wishes to develop allopathic curricula for future acupuncture students. Whatever path they ultimately choose, we have every confidence their work will be exceptional and slightly ahead of its time.
The New England School of Acupuncture, located in Newton, Massachusetts, was the first acupuncture school in the United States and remains one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the field. Originally founded in 1975 by Dr. James Tin Yau So and later licensed as a vocational school by the Massachusetts Department of Education in 1976, NESA’s three-year program now culminates in one of two master’s degrees: Master’s of Acupuncture (Mac) or a Master’s of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM). The school enrolls 60 – 75 students per year and has graduated over 1,200 acupuncturists in its history. Within the profession, NESA is widely known for its high academic standards, dedication to research, allopathic institutional affiliations, diverse clinical settings, commitment to public service and pristine learning environment.
June 5th, 2009
by Lisa Neal Gualtieri, PhD, Adjunct Clinical Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine
With 74% of Americans online and 80-84% of online American using the Web for health information (Pew Internet and American Life and Harris Polls), many pain sufferers are online. But far more people “lurk” than participate actively in health Web sites. Hence I was interested in a blog post that included a slide from Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research from HealthCamp Boston, which shows that people with chronic pain conditions are in the “misery loves company” quadrant and may be “most likely to benefit from and to participate in online social networks”.
What are the implications of this for the design of health Web sites? And can pain itself ever be an impediment to full participation?
June 2nd, 2009