HHS releases National Pain Strategy to prevent and manage pain

It was five years in the making, but last week the Department of Health and Human Services released its National Pain Strategy, which outlines a roadmap for providing all patients "appropriate, high-quality and evidence-based care for pain."

HHS's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health released the straregy just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new set of guidelines to reduce the use of opioids to treat chronic pain. In a statement outlining the National Pain Strategy, HHS said it was intended to be used along with the safer prescribing practices like those outlined in the CDC guidelines.

The pain strategy includes recommendations for improving pain care in six areas: population research, prevention and care, disparities, service delivery and payment, professional education and training, and public education and communication.

The plan recommends that organizations: 

  • Develop methods and metrics to monitor and improve the prevention and management of pain
  • Support 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
  • Take steps to reduce barriers to pain care and improve the quality of pain care for vulnerable, stigmatized and underserved populations
  • Increase public awareness of pain, increasing patient knowledge of treatment options and risks, and better educating healthcare workers about pain management

"We need to ensure that people with pain get appropriate care and that means defining how we can best manage pain care in this country," said Linda Porter, Ph.D., director of the National Institutes of Health's Office of Pain Policy and co-chair of group behind the pain strategy report.

The strategy also includes strategies to reduce inappropriate opioid prescription. Doctors are already struggling with how to balance the need to help patients alleviate pain with the tough new CDC guidelines meant to curb opioid abuse, FiercePracticeManagement reported. Patients, too, worry that it will become too difficult to get the medications they need to adequately treat their pain.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the National Pain Strategy (pdf)