The overarching goal of this action plan is: ‘Improved quality of life for people living with pain and the pain burden for individuals and the community is minimised’.
As Australian health professionals supporting and caring for people living with chronic pain, we have been specifically tasked with addressing GOAL 3 of the National Strategic Action plan: ‘Health practitioners are well-informed and skilled on best practice evidence-based care and are supported to deliver this care.’
How do we achieve this goal?
A Commonwealth of Australia Grant for Health Professional Pain Education is designed to support progress towards this goal. In 2020, $1million funding was awarded to our Consortium led by the Pain Management Research Institute (University of Sydney) and including the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and Economics (University of Sydney), Curtin University, the Australian Pain Society, the National Ageing Research institute and the University of South Australia (Pain Revolution) to co-develop and implement a digitally-supported interdisciplinary, health professional pain management training program.
What are we doing with the funding?
We’re working hard to co-develop a health professional pain training program that promotes a nationally consistent and integrated approach to the management of Australian people living with chronic pain. To do this well, we need to work closely in partnership with Australians living with chronic pain, carers and all health professionals. Each member of the consortium is contributing in various ways to this achieving this goal.
How can you be part of a genuine partnership to inform Australian health professional pain training?
We’re partnering with Australian people who live with chronic pain, carers and health professionals to develop a shared understanding of what the main priorities are for pain care and how we can train health professionals to better support those care priorities. A team at Curtin University led by Professor Helen Slater, is leading this activity.
“Our Curtin team have recently worked with people living with chronic pain (with various pain conditions and across a wide age range) to co-create an online survey. This focused on understanding: ‘what you think is the most important thing your health professional needs to be able to do, to help you manage your chronic pain. While it might be surprising, this work has not previously been done. Understanding these pain care priorities means we can target the training of health professionals to better support this care”. (Prof Slater)
Here are a few examples of what people living with chronic pain have told us their care priorities are:
The most important thing my health professional(s) needs to be able to do is:
"…listen to my fears and worries, believe and respect me and give me a meaningful explanation of what’s wrong."
"…support me in taking control of my care, explaining what I can do to help myself, what help I need from others, and how I can find that help."
"…give me safe, effective choices for my pain care (not just drugs) and explain the risks / benefits for each choice."
For carers of people living with chronic pain, we are asking: ‘what you [as a carer] think is the most important thing(s) a health professional(s) needs to be able to do, to help support a person with chronic pain.'
Here are a few examples of what other carers have told us are important pain care priorities:
The most important thing a health professional(s) needs to be able to do is:
"…know how to support people with chronic pain so they can achieve a better quality of life."
"…support people with chronic pain to engage in activities they value and find meaningful."
Tell me more about the survey
The survey will be done in 3 rounds (~10 minutes each). Any Australian, 16 years and over, with chronic pain (>3 months), or a carer of someone with chronic pain, can participate.
Round 1 is focused on input from people living with pain and carers
Round 2, we will ask the same people from Round 1, to rate the level of importance of these Round 1 priorities. We also invite Australian health professionals to join the survey and rank these same priorities, and rate their confidence to support these care priorities.
In Round 3, all participants who have completed Rounds 1 and 2, are invited to rank the final top 10 list of priorities.
After we complete the survey rounds, we’ll work with the PMRI and Menzies team to focus on taking these shared priorities across into our shaping our pain training programs.
“This partnership approach can set us up for more targeted interdisciplinary pain training of health professionals with a strong positioning of lived pain experience embedded into building health professional knowledge and practical skills. We believe this can be a game-changer for driving improvements in pain care for all Australians, as the training will be digitally supported”. (Prof Slater)