Progress and Challenges in Pain Research

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student, PREP-AIRED blog moderator and administrator

Thank you to Dr. Daniel Carr, founder of the Tufts University School of Medicine’s Pain Research Education and Policy Programs (PREP) for alerting us to a collection of articles in a recent edition of Nature Medicine which review progress and challenges in pain research from the bench to the bedside.  Take a look at some of the interesting issues being addressed with a focus on pain research and treatment.

Click here to view the table of contents

Add comment December 10th, 2010

New Release: Approaches to Pain Management with foreward by Daniel Carr, MD, FABPM

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator

Untreated or under-treated pain causes needless suffering and negatively affects the quality of life. That is why the management of pain remains a critical area of health care and why the concept is addressed throughout the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requirements. 

We congratulate the Tufts University School of Medicine’s Pain Research, Education and Policy Programs co-founder, Daniel Carr, MD, FABPM for providing the forward to the newly published second edition of Approaches to Pain Management: An Essential Guide for Clinical Leaders  

Approaches to Pain Management: An Essential Guide for Clinical Leaders, published by the Joint Commission Resources, provides an overview of pain assessment and management, identifies what the standards require regarding the treatment of patients with pain, and offers guidance on making pain management an integral part of care services.   Dr. Carr, an internationally recognized expert in pain management, provides both perspective and vision on the complex nature of pain.

The majority of the book is devoted to the best practices of health care institutions that have adopted focused pain programs. This updated guide also incorporates a global view of pain management, additional organizational best practices—including some from non-U.S. institutions.  Other features include the following:

  • Summaries of every Joint Commission and Joint Commission International pain assessment and management requirement across all health care settings
  • Strategies for identifying and using evidence-based medicine resources for pain management
  • Expanded case study chapters from clinical leaders describing how their organizations developed and implemented their pain management activities
  • Techniques and ideas for understanding and meeting pain-related standards
  • Guidance on committing an organization to pain management improvements

For more information about  the newly released edition of Approaches to Pain Management: An Essential Guide for Clinical Leaders, click here 

 

Add comment November 29th, 2010

The Pain Research, Education, and Policy Programs at Tufts University Welcome Wendy Williams

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator

You may see a new face if you are on the Tufts University School of Medicine campus in Boston these days.  Wendy Williams, BSN, M.Ed, is in a new role with the Pain Research, Education and Policy Programs at Tufts University School of Medicine, focusing on program development and administration. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Wendy to ask her a few questions about herself and her visions for the PREP programs.  

Welcome Wendy…Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I just arrived at Tufts from spending 8 years at Northeastern University in the School of Nursing working to ensure high quality clinical nursing education placements for both the undergrad/pre-licensure students and the advanced practice students seeking both clinical and non-clinical nursing master’s degrees.   My own clinical nursing background centers around oncology and HIV/AIDS.    I spent wonderful years at both Dana Farber Cancer Institute, during the time they had inpatient units, and at Harvard Community Health Plan/Harvard Vanguard with other highly skilled nurses on the HIV/AIDS Resource Team.I married a great guy back in 1996 who had a couple of sweet little boys who are now terrific college age young men, studying here in Boston.  My husband, Jeff, and I live in Framingham with our 3-legged cat, Punky, and hairless dog, Diddy.

What interests you about the PREP programs?

The concern for under-treated pain and pain management are steady threads that ran throughout my own clinical practice.  Ensuring adequate pain management is a strong cornerstone of quality nursing care and practice, so the PREP programs of study are very attractive to me and tie together much of what I value.  The chance to work collaboratively with the three program leaders (who are also physicians), Dr. Dan Carr and Dr. Richard Glickman-Simon and Dr. Ylisabyth Bradshaw, is an opportunity I want to leverage.I have long sought ways to be a force behind strengthening linkages between medicine and nursing and other health care disciplines to encourage both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to health care.  The PREP programs present an ideal setting to have broad-based conversations around the area of pain issues.  Also, my own master’s degree is in education, specializing in adult and organizational learning, so .  the opportunity to develop a program of study and optimize learning for students globally is a really strong draw for me to be here at Tufts working with the PREP programs.

What do you see as the strengths and challenges of the PREP program?

A real strength of the PREP programs is its unique position in masters level education  that delves deeply into the many physical/clinical, social and scientific aspects of pain.  There is not a population of people, worldwide, that is not impacted by pain issues.  Also, the fact that the PREP programs are not solely clinically based creates a rich learning environment for many types of students… clinicians seeking to be subject matter experts in pain issues learn side by side with non-clinicians who may be seeing the PREP programs as a way to become well-informed advocates for pain issues.  After about a month in this role, I see two challenges to the PREP programs that I would like to positively impact.  One challenge is getting more and more people in the greater Boston area to know about this great set of programs and to become students in the program.  I happen to know one graduate of the program, Hallie Greenberg, a nurse from the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and know that there are so many others that would be really inspired to become proficient in this area.  The other challenge is understanding and communicating to others clear linkages between getting one of the certificates and/or the master’s degree and a specific career enhancement.  There seems to be a certain pioneering element to encouraging students to go for the certificates or the degree as a natural next step in career growth.

What are your hopes and vision for the PREP program?

I hope that PREP grows steadily, both in numbers and in innovative educational initiatives, and sustainably with input from all communities of interest: students and alumni and staff and our steering committee and faculty and leaders in pain issues globally.  I would love to speak with students and alumni and gain their insights on how we can best lead the way in pain research, education and policy.  I welcome calls, 617 636-0815, emails wendy.williams@tufts.edu, or simply stop by my office in the M&V building, Room 142A. I’d love to meet you.

Add comment November 15th, 2010

Love Induced Pain Relief

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP graduate student and PREP-AIREDLove Induced Pain Relief blog moderator

Thank you to Tufts University School of Medicine, MS-PREP alumna Nancy Mitchell for forwarding this intriguing study from Stanford University School of Medicine on love induced pain relief.  In their study, Dr. Sean Mackey and colleagues suggest that intense, passionate feelings of love can alter the perception of pain. 

“When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain,” said Sean Mackey, MD, PhD, chief of the Division of Pain Management, associate professor of anesthesia and senior author of the study. “We’re beginning to tease apart some of these reward systems in the brain and how they influence pain. These are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine — a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward and motivation.”

While love is not the only answer to relieving pain, it appears that similar areas of the brain are activated by intense love and also by pain relieving pharmaceuticals.  Further study of the neural reward pathways  that are triggered by intense feelings of passion could lead to a more complete undertanding of the neural mechanisms involved in the pain experience.

Click here to read the complete study

Add comment November 9th, 2010

MS-PREP August 2010 Capstone Presentations

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator

 

August 11, 2010 marked the culmination of intensive research and planning for two candidates for Master’s degrees in the Pain Research, Education and Policy Program at the Tufts University School of Medicine with the presentation of their capstone projects.

Margaretta Elizabeth (Beth) Sangree, a student in the joint program with the New England School of Acupuncture (NESA), presented her capstone project entitled

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Pictured L-R: Ylisabyth (Libby) Bradshaw, DO, MS, Associate Director of the Pain Research, Education and Policy Program; Margaretta Elizabeth (Beth) Sangree, MS-PREP candidate, Richard Glickman-Simon, MD, Director of the Pain Research, Education and Policy Program; and Sherry Brink, RN, BSN, MS-PREP candidate

“Measures of the Patient-Provider Relationship in Acupuncture Treatments”. Beth highlighted several studies that support the importance of relationship-centered care in effective pain treatment. Future directions will include quanitfiable, replicable, randominzed control studies to continue to document the effect of patient-provider relationship on treatment effectiveness.

Sherry Brink, RN, BSN, presented her capstone project on “Post-Op Pain Management in the Pediatric Patient” with emphasis on bringing best practices of post-op pain managment to underserved, international patient populations. Sherry recounted her experience bringing comprehensive pain management methods to a small rural hospital in the Andes mountains of Peru and her development and integration of a bilingual nursing education module on pain management currently being used by the staff in Peru. Sherry hopes to use her MS-PREP degree to further her international medical mission work by continuing to educate nurses worldwide in effective, compassionate pain management methods.

Congratulations to these two exceptional MS-PREP degree candidates!

Add comment August 23rd, 2010

Study Highlights How Adensosine May Play a Role in Pain Relief with Acupunture

by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
Thanks to MS-PREP alumna, Xu Cheng, for sending along a link to a recent issue of Nature Neuroscience which highlights a study on acupuncture’s pain reducing effect. In animal studies, the neuromodulator adenosine appears to play a significant role in the local anti-nociceptive properties of acupuncture. These observations indicate that adenosine mediates the effects of acupuncture and that interfering with adenosine metabolism may prolong the clinical benefit of acupuncture Click here to read the abstract of the study

Add comment June 2nd, 2010

Acupuncture and Tension Headaches

By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
Thank you to 2010 MS-PREP alumna, Nancy Mitchell, for sending along a recent update to the Cochrane Library and the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews addressing acupuncture and tension-type headaches. In a previous Cochrane Review (2001), acupuncture was found to be inconclusive as a treatment for tension-type headaches. However an updated 2009 Cochrane Review on acupuncture and tension-type headaches, which included 11 randomly controlled trials, concluded that acupuncture may be a valuable treatment option for patients suffering from frequent tension-type headaches.
The Cochrane Review stated: “We reviewed 11 trials which investigated whether acupuncture is effective in the prophylaxis of tension-type headache. Two large trials investigating whether adding acupuncture to basic care (which usually involves only treating unbearable pain with pain killers) found that those patients who received acupuncture had fewer headaches. Forty-seven percent of patients receiving acupuncture reported a decrease in the number of headache days by at least 50%, compared to 16% of patients in the control groups. Six trials compared true acupuncture with inadequate or ‘fake’ acupuncture interventions in which needles were either inserted at incorrect points or did not penetrate the skin. Overall, these trials found slightly better effects in the patients receiving the true acupuncture intervention. Fifty percent of patients receiving true acupuncture reported a decrease of the number of headache days by at least 50%, compared to 41% of patients in the groups receiving inadequate or ‘fake’ acupuncture. Three of the four trials in which acupuncture was compared to physiotherapy, massage or relaxation had important methodological shortcomings. Their findings are difficult to interpret, but collectively suggest slightly better results for some outcomes with the latter therapies. In conclusion, the available evidence suggests that acupuncture could be a valuable option for patients suffering from frequent tension-type headache.”
Cochrane Reviews are an integral part of evidence based medicine. It is important to include both allopathic and integrative medicine studies in the rigorous review process to further our knowledge of effective strategies to treat and manage chronic pain conditions.

Add comment May 23rd, 2010

Massachuetts Pain Initiative Survey Finds Chronic Pain Affects 1 in 4 Adults in Massachusetts

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by Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student, PREP-AIRED blog moderator
Thanks to Cyndie Rodman, MS-PREP ’09, for sending along the press release from the recent Massachusetts Pain Initiative Survey. Cyndie writes that “the survey not only quantified the incidence of chronic pain among the Massachusetts general population, but also the differences and disparities experienced by minorities versus non-minorities. This is the first Massachusetts study we are aware of to look at how pain is experienced by minorities compared to non-minorities.” Tufts University School of Medicine’s Pain Research, Education and Policy (PREP) faculty member, Carol Curtiss, RN, MSN, as well as PREP guest lecturer, Paul Arnstein, PhD, APRN-BC, played instrumental roles in the survey. Click here to read the Massachusetts Pain Initiative’s press release about the survey. For more information about the Massachusetts Pain Initative, click here.

2 comments May 10th, 2010

Pain Relievers and Hearing Loss in Men

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by Nancy Mitchell, MS-PREP/NESA student
According to an American Journal of Medicine study, regular use of over the counter (OTC) pain relievers may contribute to hearing loss in men. In the prospective study, which included 27,000 men surveyed every two years between 1986 to 2004 approximately 25% of the men said they had been diagnosed with hearing loss. Individuals who used OTC pain relievers at least twice a week were more likely than non-users to be diagnosed. Previous nonhuman research has found some substances in pain-relievers can decrease blood flow to the cochlea, the part of the inner ear that converts waves sound into brain signals.
Click here to read an abstract of the study.

Add comment April 14th, 2010

10 Year Milestone for PREP Program at Tufts

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By Pamela Katz Ressler, RN, BSN, HN-BC, MS-PREP student and PREP-AIRED blog moderator
The Pain Research, Education and Policy Program at Tufts University has reached an important milestone by celebrating its first ten years of existence. In the Fall of 1999, the first two students were welcomed into the new master’s program, the first of its kind in the United States, founded by two prominent pain specialists, Daniel Carr, MD, an anthesthesiologist-internist, and sociologist Kathryn Lasch, PhD; and housed within the Tufts University School of Medicine. Recent MS-PREP alumna, Xu Cheng, discovered an archive edition of the Tufts Daily announcing the MS-PREP program’s launch on October 26, 1999.
Click here to view the Tufts Daily 1999 article
In 2009, the PREP program remains an innovative, multidisciplinary program that has grown and evolved since its launch a decade ago. As one of the foremost experts in the field of pain management, Dr. Daniel Carr continues to be a guiding presence in the growth and direction of the Pain Research Education and Policy program. On the occasion of the 10 year anniversary of the program, I asked Dr. Carr to share his reflections about the PREP program with the PREP-AIRED blog community. Dr. Carr’s remarks appear in the italicized text below:
“Ten years ago, a front page article in the Tufts Daily announced the launch of a new Masters of Science degree program in Pain Research, Education and Policy (“MSPREP”). Kathryn Lasch PhD, a medical sociologist now with an international outcomes research consultancy, and I were its co-founders. The inaugural class had 2 students. Shahnaz Turkistani, a physician, returned to her native Saudi Arabia after graduation and now treats women with pain. Ewan McNicol, a Tufts-based pharmacist now on the PREP faculty, is known internationally for systematic reviews of pain therapies with the Cochrane Collaboration and others.
The first of its kind in the United States, our program remains unique and has grown slowly and steadily since 1999. We now offer a shorter, certificate track in addition to the original MS track. We owe much to the Sackler family, whose initial and ongoing support has been indispensable, the Hermanson family for funding scholarships, and the Saltonstall family for supporting pain research in the Department of Anesthesia at Tufts Medical Center, the source of many PREP faculty. Jeanne Connolly-Horrigan combined a marketing background and passion for pain control to help us grow enrollment during the mid-2000s. Richard Glickman-Simon MD, now its Director, brought a career-long interest in complementary and alternative medicine and built a successful dual degree program between PREP and the New England School of Acupuncture.
Our faculty have taught students, treated patients, advised policymakers and professional organizations, and authored many articles and books. Our next book is a guide to pain treatment for busy clinicians practicing in the current era of health care reform. The editors of this volume are Ewan McNicol MSPREP, Carol Curtiss MSN RN BC, a distinguished nurse educator and PREP faculty member, and me; other contributors include Richard Glickman-Simon MD, Libby Bradshaw DO, MS, PREP’s Associate Director, and Steven Scrivani DDS PhD, another valued faculty member. We 6 faculty comprise PREP’s Steering Committee. Given pain’s burden upon public health, it is most appropriate that PREP is housed within the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, capably led by Dean Harris Berman and more recently, Dean Aviva Must.
For me, the best thing about the first 10 years of PREP has been seeing our students succeed as they extend and enhance their careers, helping those with pain and becoming educational resources for their new colleagues. Students have come to PREP from across the US and from many countries, with diverse healthcare and non-healthcare backgrounds, and from other graduate programs at Tufts and affiliates. They have been MDs, RNs, DDSs, pharmacists, PTs, OTs, EMTs and others interested in pain, whether making a mid-career change from another field or beginning their graduate training immediately after college. One is the principal pain nurse educator in a large urban medical center. Another works with a world-famous outcomes research consultancy, on pain. Yet another accepted a high-profile advocacy position at a major pharmaceutical company. Another works in a hospice. Others have proceeded to medical or osteopathic school or to seek a PhD.
Our students are a very special group of altruistic people. We are proud of all they have achieved. We look forward to serving more and more students as society at large and the health professions increasingly understand how fundamentally important pain control is for quality of life, and accept pain control as a basic human right.”

Thank you to Dr. Carr and the PREP faculty for their vision and passion in the field of pain control, may the PREP program continue to blaze the trail for many years to come.

2 comments October 29th, 2009

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