UAB named one of 11 National Centers of Excellence in Pain Education

The National Institutes of Health centers will close gaps in curricula so clinicians can make better and safer choices about pain treatment.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has been named one of 11 Centers of Excellence in Pain Education by the National Institutes of Health Pain Consortium. The centers will be hubs for the development, evaluation and distribution of pain-management-curriculum resources for medical, dental, nursing and pharmacy schools to better educate health-care professionals about pain and its treatment.

pain_education_story“Virtually all health professionals are called to help patients suffering from pain,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “These new centers will translate current research findings about pain management to fill what have been recognized as gaps in curricula so clinicians in all fields can work with their patients to make better and safer choices about pain treatment.”

The UAB program will develop and integrate pain-management curricula for UAB’s schools of Medicine and Nursing, the departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy within the School of Health Professions, Samford University’s schools of Pharmacy and Nursing and the Auburn University School of Pharmacy.

The UAB program will develop and integrate pain-management curricula for UAB’s schools of Medicine and Nursing, the departments of Occupational and Physical Therapy within the School of Health Professions, Samford University’s schools of Pharmacy and Nursing and the Auburn University School of Pharmacy.

Particular focus will be on pain-management for vulnerable populations, including persons with multiple illnesses, dementia, HIV and cancer. Elizabeth Kvale, M.D., assistant professor, and Cynthia J. Brown, M.D., MSPH, associate professor in the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care, are co-principal investigators of the UAB center.

Chronic pain affects approximately 100 million Americans, costing up to $635 billion in medical treatment and lost productivity and producing immeasurable suffering for people of every age. Yet, pain treatment is not taught extensively in many health professions schools, and clinical approaches can be inconsistent. The curricula developed by the centers will advance the assessment, diagnosis and safe treatment of a variety of pain conditions while minimizing the abuse of opioid pain relievers.

They will include multiple case-based scenarios, many taught in video or electronic formats popularly used in contemporary academic settings. Types of pain of particular interest to the NIH Pain Consortium are rehabilitation pain, arthritis and musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain and headache pain. In addition, the curricula will teach about the pathophysiology and pharmacology of pain and its treatment, the latest research in complementary and integrative pain management, factors that contribute to both under- and over-prescribing of pain medications and the ways pain manifests itself differently by gender and in children, older adults and diverse populations.

The other awardees are the University of Washington; the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine; Southern Illinois University; the University of Rochester; the University of New Mexico; the Harvard School of Dental Medicine; the Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and the University of Pittsburgh.

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