It must be pain management week here at the Nursing Show. After last week’s episode of the Nursing Show, I found this press release from a new resource for nurses and other health professionals.
The results of the survey in the article underlines the need to improve our communication skills, learn to ignore our own preconceptions about pain, and focus not just on hearing the words spoken by our patients but truly listening to the context and meaning.
Nashville, TN (Sept 8, 2008) – A nationwide survey found a sizable gap exists between patients and healthcare professionals when it comes to understanding and discussing pain. To address this discrepancy, a new coalition of leading pain management organizations has formed to improve how patients and healthcare professionals communicate with each other.
The Let’s Talk Pain Coalition is the first of its kind to unite the perspectives of patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals to encourage people to talk more about pain, listen actively, and act in ways that improve care for the millions of people who live with pain. The organizations behind Let’s Talk Pain have created a new interactive Web site, www.letstalkpain.org, to provide visitors with comprehensive information and tools to help enhance the dialogue between those affected by pain and healthcare professionals.
“Pain is one of the nation’s leading public health problems, and it often goes under-treated. It is difficult to diagnose and challenging to talk about,” said Dr. Scott Fishman, Chair and President of the American Pain Foundation and Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine and Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of California at Davis. “Open lines of communication and strong patient-professional relationships are what healthcare professionals strive for, and in pain management this is absolutely vital. This Coalition is exciting because it aims to help professionals and patients communicate better in order to help improve pain management.”
The Let’s Talk Pain Coalition debuts this week at the American Academy of Pain Management (the Academy) annual meeting in Nashville, TN. The Academy is one of the founding members of the Coalition along with the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN) and the Coalition’s lead organization, the American Pain Foundation (APF). PriCara™, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is the sponsor of the Coalition.
One of the Coalition’s first activities was a national online survey of pain patients and physicians. It revealed the need for an increase in open and direct conversations about pain and highlighted the impact pain has on patients’ quality of life. The findings also underscored a disconnect between how patients and physicians are communicating with each other. Additional barriers such as lack of trust and not enough time for office visits can affect communications, and ultimately may influence pain management. According to the survey:
- Sixty percent of patients strongly agreed that they can be open and honest about their pain with their physician. Yet, the same survey found that less than 10 percent of physicians strongly agreed that their patients tell them the truth about their pain.
- While the majority of physicians, 97 percent, strongly agreed that there is enough time to discuss pain with their patients, less than half of patients surveyed, 46 percent, felt the same way.
- Pain has a substantial impact on the lives of patients and interferes with their ability to work outside the home and to exercise.
- Treatment-related side effects can have a negative impact on the management of pain, causing some patients and physicians to discontinue using pain medicine.
“Having pain is challenging and has significantly affected my daily life, to the point where I have had to stop working,” said Andrea Cooper, a Maryland-based artist who suffers from chronic pain and is featured in a video on the Let’s Talk Pain Web site. “Pain is an invisible condition. I have learned that the best way to improve my health and my treatment outcome is through engaging in an open and personal dialogue with my healthcare professional and connecting with others to talk about pain.”
Andrea’s story and the Let’s Talk Pain Web site were previewed during the ASPMN annual conference in Tucson, AZ, for pain management nurses this past weekend. Several Web features were highlighted, including:
- Talk: an interactive section where visitors-pain patients and healthcare professionals alike-can learn strategies for opening up the lines of communication about pain. Housed here are video success stories from real patients and healthcare professionals as well as an interactive Q&A with pain experts.
- Listen: a clearinghouse of essential, credible information about pain. Here people with pain, healthcare professionals, caregivers, and family members can become familiar with pain terms and conditions as well as learn more about how pain is assessed so that it is easier to start an informed dialogue.
- Act: a section with up-to-date information on how the Coalition is improving communication within the pain community.
“Let’s Talk Pain offers the first pain resource that will effectively equip people to improve how they discuss pain so that the actions taken improve pain outcomes,” said Nancy Eksterowicz, MSN, RN-BC, Department of Anesthesiology Acute Pain Service, University of Virginia Health System, and President-Elect of ASPMN. “The pain community has never had one online location for credible information, nor have we had a place where patients and healthcare professionals can connect to learn from each others’ experiences.”
About the Survey
The Let’s Talk Pain Coalition commissioned a national, Internet-based survey of 500 pain patients and 275 physicians treating pain, including primary care physicians, oncologists, pain specialists, neurologists, rheumatologists, surgeons, and psychiatrists. Analytica International, a research firm based in New York, NY, conducted the survey from April 3 to 11, 2008.
American Pain Foundation
Founded in 1997, the American Pain Foundation (APF) is an independent nonprofit 501(c)3 organization serving people with pain through information, advocacy, and support. APF’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people with pain by raising public awareness, providing practical information, promoting research, and advocating to remove barriers and to increase access to effective pain management. For more information, visit www.painfoundation.org.
American Academy of Pain Management
The American Academy of Pain Management (the Academy) is a nonprofit organization serving a broad range of clinicians who treat people with pain through education, information, and advocacy. Founded in 1988, the Academy has approximately 5,300 members and is the largest interdisciplinary/integrative pain organization in the United States. Visit www.aapainmanage.org for more info.
American Society for Pain Management Nursing
American Society for Pain Management Nursing’s mission is to advance and promote optimal nursing care for people affected by pain by promoting best nursing practice. This is accomplished through education, standards, advocacy, and research. Visit www.aspmn.org.
PriCara™, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
PriCara™, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is a major health care company in the United States dedicated to the needs of primary care providers who serve a vital role on the frontline of medicine. For more information about the company, please visit www.PriCara.com.