Online Forum for Pain Researchers

by Pamela Katz Ressler, MS-PREP, RN, HN-BC, adjunct faculty Pain Research Education and Policy Program (PREP), Tufts University School of Medicine, and PREP-Aired blog moderator

Social media forums and online communities surrounding health topics are prevalent on the Internet.  The most frequent reason individuals seek medical care is pain; so it is not surprising that there are numerous of active pain-related  online communities.  Most of these communities are focused on pain conditions, treatment, advocacy and support of the individual living with chronic, persistent pain. In contrast to the robust nature of these pain-related online communities for patients and advocates, there has been a paucity of similar online communities for pain researchers and investigators.  The sharing of information and relevant research surrounding the complex nature of persistent pain has historically been relegated to periodic academic conferences and print publications researchers.  However, that may now be changing with the development of the Pain Research Forum.  Launched in June 2011 by  the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Science Collaboration Foundation,  the Pain Research Forum seeks to speed the translation of scientific knowledge into novel pain therapies by fostering the collaborative nature of an online community and by raising interest in pain research to a wider audience.

We in the Pain Research, Education, and Policy Program (PREP) at Tufts University School of Medicine applaud the collaborative nature of the Pain Research Forum and look forward to participating in this important pain research-based online community.

3 comments November 9th, 2011

Dr. Harris Berman Named Dean of Tufts University School of Medicine

by Pamela Katz Ressler, MS-PREP, RN, HN-BC, adjunct faculty member Pain Research, Education and Policy Program (PREP) Tufts University School of Medicine, PREP-Aired blog moderator and administrator

The Tufts Pain Research, Education and Policy Program congratulates Dr. Harris Berman on his recent appointment to the position of Dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine. Dr. Berman, a visionary leader in providing healthcare to populations, has a keen interest in the intersection of public health and medicine. In a recent interview in Tufts Now, Dr. Berman discussed his belief that public health should be a part of medicine, an integral part of how we care for the health of our population. Dr. Berman’s interest in population health and prevention began as a Peace Corps physician in India and continued into his leadership roles of healthcare organizations and academia.

The Tufts Pain Research Education and Policy Program began in 1999 when Dr. Berman held the position of Chair of Tufts’ Department of Public Health and Family Practice (as it was then known). A fellow visionary regarding pain as a public health concern, he welcomed PREP into that department where it has been happily housed ever since, now under the Dean of Public Health and Professional Degree Programs, Dr. Aviva Must.

As we, in the Pain Research, Education and Policy Program move forward in our efforts to address the immense burden of pain globally, we are pleased to have Dr. Harris Berman at the helm of the Tufts University School of Medicine.

Add comment October 13th, 2011

Pain Education is a Public Health Imperative: Reflections on Pain Awareness Month and the Institute of Medicine Pain Report

by Daniel B. Carr, MD, FABPM, FFPMANZCA (Hon.), Co-Founder and Director of the Pain Research, Education and Policy Program (PREP) at the Tufts University School of Medicine

Each year, September is “Pain Awareness Month” – a time of intense activity for PREP faculty and the entire pain community  It is also when PREP’s academic year begins.  One key insight connects diverse Pain Awareness activities and PREP’s own vision and mission: PAIN IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE, AND PAIN EDUCATION IS A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE.  Now is a perfect time to step back and place some context around this idea at the heart of not only PREP’s curriculum, but also our entire approach to interprofessional education.

The report issued by the Institute of Medicine earlier this summer – “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research” (ref 1) — is the latest in a series of white papers on pain by governmental and professional groups dating back well over two decades.  These include the first US federal clinical practice guideline (ref 2) on any topic,  numerous international guidelines (ref 3), and white papers from authoritative sources such as the Mayday Fund (ref 4), the American Academy of Pain Medicine (ref 5), and even the World Health Organization (ref 6). Together, they present steadily accumulating evidence that acute, chronic and cancer-related pain are widely prevalent and exact a major economic and human burden in developed nations and even more so in resource-poor countries. Other common themes include lost opportunities for early intervention to control or prevent the transition from acute to chronic pain, the negative outcomes of undertreated pain, the importance of optimal pain control for patient-centered care, disparities in pain assessment and treatment experienced by minorities and other under-represented groups such as women or those at the extremes of age, and the need “to adopt a population-level prevention and management strategy” (ref 1) for pain.  Related to all these is the growing perspective that pain control is a fundamental human right (ref 7) as articulated by Human Rights Watch (ref 8  ) and recently affirmed in the 2010 Declaration of Montreal by delegates to the International Pain Summit (ref 9).

Since its inception in 1999, the Tufts program on pain research, education and policy has been housed in its Department of Public Health and Community Medicine. Although the pain community has long held a consensus that pain is a biopsychosocial phenomenon, most prestigious journal articles and a majority of research funding have emphasized the “bio” end of that word. Thus, the classical Loeser model of pain originates in subcellular nociceptive machinery, then broadens to encompass the experiences of pain and suffering, followed by pain behavior.  The Loeser model is an intrinsically individual one.

(Fig 1. Loeser Model used with permission of Professor John Loeser)

Our program’s framing of pain employs a sociobiological perspective, in keeping with our having been co-founded by a PhD sociologist, Kathy Lasch. Those individuals better able to detect and remember threats to their survival have better odds of propagating their DNA within the collective gene pool. Indeed, within Darwin’s (and more recently, Dawkins’s) “selfish gene” framework, individuals are mere vessels through which genes propagate themselves (ref 10). Whether or not we agree with this view, it sets the stage for interesting discussion by shifting our reference frame to a distinctly supraindividual model of pain. According to PREP’s social model, the experience of pain is still at the core, but to understand it requires research that goes beyond the individual. In human society, research is lost if not translated into education – particularly one that embraces the intersubjective, social and emotional nature of the pain experience. We at PREP are committed to interprofessional education of pain leaders as the most effective way to effect social change – a commitment that led to our program’s specific acknowledgment in the IOM report in its chapter 4, on education.  Among recent PREP graduates and applicants we are beginning to see a few exceptional persons who have chosen to spend their careers as policymakers in the important field of pain. I am delighted to see this, because the continuous translation of the benefits of research and education requires ongoing support through enlightened, population-based health policies.

Fig 2.  PREP model

References

1: Institute of Medicine Report (2011)  http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=13172

2: AHCPR clinical practice guideline: acute pain (1992) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK16501/

3: Carr, DB .”The Development of National Guidelines for Pain Control: Synopsis and Commentary”, European Journal of Pain (2001), 5 (Suppl. A) p. 91-98.

4: “A Call to Revolutionize Chronic Pain Care in America: An Opportunity in Health Care Reform”, Mayday Fund (2009)  http://www.maydaypainreport.org/docs/A%20Call%20to%20Revolutionize%20Chronic%20Pain%20Care%20in%20America%2003.04.10.pdf

5: Dubois, MY, Gallagher, RM, Lippe, PM. “Pain Medicine Position Paper”, Pain Medicine, vol. 10, issue 6, p. 972-1000, Sept 2009. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4637.2009.00696.x/full

6: World Health Organization press release (Oct 11, 2004)  http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2004/pr70/en/index.html

7: Brennan, F, Carr, DB, Cousins, M. “Pain Management: A Fundamental Human Right”, Anesthesia & Analgesia, vol. 105, no. 1, p. 205-221, July 2007.    http://www.anesthesia-analgesia.org/content/105/1/205.full.pdf+html

8: Human Rights Watch 2009 report   http://www.hrw.org/reports/2009/03/02/please-do-not-make-us-suffer-any-more-0

9: Declaration of Montreal 2010 from International Pain Summit http://www.iasp-pain.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Advocacy/DeclarationofMontr233al/default.htm

10: Carr, DB; “What Does Pain Hurt?”, IASP — Pain Clinical Updates, vol. XVIII, issue 3, p. 1-6, July 2009  http://www.iasp-pain.org/AM/AMTemplate.cfm?Section=HOME&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&SECTION=HOME&CONTENTID=9599

Add comment September 1st, 2011

What is PREP?

PREP stands for Pain Research, Education and Policy. We are a unique Master’s degree program drawing students from diverse fields with a common interest in creating new models for addressing and treating pain in our society. Our curriculum is based on the premise that the experience of pain and its control are influenced by factors ranging from molecules to social, cultural, and economic forces. The co-founders of this program were an anesthesiologist/internist and a sociologist, a diversity that reflects the interdisciplinary collaborative perspective of our curriculum. Our students acquire the requisite tools to understand and engage in pain research, education, and advocacy positions. We hope you will visit this blog often to see the exciting and innovative work the PREP program’s students, alumni and faculty are doing in the workd of pain research, education and policy. Visit our program website for more information.

1 comment February 14th, 2009


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