The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Friday released a National Pain Strategy, outlining the federal government’s first coordinated plan for reducing the burden of chronic pain that affects millions of Americans. Developed by a diverse team of experts from around the nation, the National Pain Strategy is a roadmap toward achieving a system of care in which all people receive appropriate, high quality and evidence-based care for pain.
“Chronic pain is a significant public health problem, affecting millions of Americans and incurring significant economic costs to our society,” said Karen B. DeSalvo, M.D., M.P.H., M.Sc., HHS acting assistant secretary for health. “This report identifies the key steps we can take to improve how we prevent, assess and treat pain in this country.”
In 2011, in recognition of the public health problem of pain in America, the Institute of Medicine called for a coordinated, national effort of public and private organizations to transform how the nation understands and approaches pain management and prevention.
In response, HHS tasked the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC), a group of representatives from the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health and members of the public, including scientists and patient advocates, with developing a National Pain Strategy that recognizes access to safe and effective care for people suffering from pain as a public health priority.
The final strategy makes recommendations for improving overall pain care in America in six key areas: population research; prevention and care; disparities; service delivery and payment; professional education and training; and public education and communication.
More specifically, the strategy calls for:
- Developing methods and metrics to monitor and improve the prevention and management of pain.
- Supporting the development of a system of patient-centered integrated pain management practices based on a biopsychosocial model of care that enables providers and patients to access the full spectrum of pain treatment options.
- Taking steps to reduce barriers to pain care and improve the quality of pain care for vulnerable, stigmatized and underserved populations.
- Increasing public awareness of pain, increasing patient knowledge of treatment options and risks, and helping to develop a better informed health care workforce with regard to pain management.