Institute of Medicine Releases Report on the State of Pain Care in the United States

by Pamela Katz Ressler, MS-PREP, RN, HN-BC, Adjunct Faculty, PREP-Aired blog moderator and administrator, Pain Research Education and Policy Program, Tufts University School of Medicine

On June 29, 2011, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report addressing the issue of pain in the United States and called for “a cultural transformation in the way pain is viewed and treated” (IOM report p. 3).   The 313-page report entitled: Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research, examines the enormity of the burden of pain from many measures.  Chronic pain affects at least 116 million U.S. adults and the financial cost of pain to society, measured in 2010 dollars, is estimated to range between $560 and $635 billion annually.  In comparing these staggering numbers to other chronic diseases, the cost of pain is greater than the cost of heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. 

The authors of the IOM report base their recommendations for change and transformation of pain on nine underlying principles:

  • A moral imperitive
  • Chronic pain can be a disease in itself
  • Value of comprehensive treatment
  • Need for interdisciplinary approaches
  • Importance of prevention
  • Wider use of existing knowledge
  • Conundrum of opioids
  • Roles of patients and clinicians
  • Value of a public health and community-based approach

The IOM report highlights the importance of education in the multidisciplinary nature of pain issues and includes it as a key action item in the proposed blueprint for transformation of pain in our society.  On the topic of professional education IOM report recommends:

  • Expansion and redesign of education programs to transform the understanding of pain
  • Improving the curriculum and education for health care professionals around the issue of pain
  • Increasing the number of health professionals with advanced expertise in pain care

We, at the Tufts Pain Research Education and Policy program (PREP), applaud the IOM for increasing awareness of the enormous burden of pain in our society by issuing the report: “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research“.   We are also extremely proud that the Tufts PREP program has been providing the type of  comprehensive pain curriculum proposed by the IOM report for over a decade, since 1999, and remains the first and only multidisciplinary postgraduate  program of its kind in the United States.

Your comments and thoughts on the IOM report are welcome;  please click here to read a full, unabridged online version of “Relieving Pain in America: A blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education and Research”.

Add comment July 5th, 2011


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