Need for better pain education of health professionals to reduce patient risk
Need for Better Pain Education of Health Professionals to Reduce Patient Risk
This year’s Global Year Against Pain highlights alarming deficits in the provision of pain education and training in the curricula of health professionals – putting pain patients’ lives at risk.
Unmanaged or poorly managed pain can have devastating consequences including depression and suicide. People with ongoing pain are also at higher risk of drug dependence and misuse, as well as accidental death from prescription medication overdose.
Despite strong evidence indicating opioids are largely ineffective for chronic pain, they continue to be prescribed to pain patients. In areas where access to services is limited, prescribing rates tend to be higher, especially in rural and remote Australia.
CEO of Painaustralia Carol Bennett says it is time for Australia to prioritise pain, in particular chronic pain, so that consumers can receive the best possible level of assessment and treatment.
“One in five Australians live with ongoing chronic pain, and many others suffer the effects of acute pain, which if left untreated or poorly treated can transition into chronic pain,” she said.
“The pain epidemic is our third most costly health problem and the leading cause of early retirement and absenteeism. It is associated with disability, poverty, depression and suicide.
“Finding the right diagnosis and treatment is essential to help people recover from acute pain episodes and to properly manage chronic pain, however this can be problematic especially for people living in rural and remote areas, as our pain clinics and specialists are concentrated in major urban centres.
“The upcoming changes to codeine regulation have highlighted the number of Australians dependent on pain medications who are not accessing, or not aware of, alternative pain management strategies and treatments.
“Opioids alone are not a suitable response and we need to do better as a nation at managing pain. The right education for health professionals will be a necessary part of this.”
In Painaustralia’s Pre-Budget Submission 2018-19 we have called for 16 projects delivered under seven priority objectives to alleviate the burden of pain in Australia. It includes strategies to reduce the use of opioids and standardised pain education for aged care workers.
The Global Year for Excellence in Pain Education is an initiative of the International Association for the Study of Pain, which aims to improve pain education for health professionals and educators, students, government entities, the research community, patients and the general public.