An Interprofessional Approach to Pain Education in Schools of Nursing, Medicine, and Pharmacy

Monday, 30 October 2017

Tammy D. Barbé, PhD, RN, CNE1
Annesha White, PhD2
Kimberly Vernachio, PharmD3
David Rhoads, BS2
John Licciardone, DO4
Simone Jiandani, PharmD5
Sumihiro Suzuki, PhD6
(1)Georgia Baptist College of Nursing, Mercer University, Atlanta, GA, USA
(2)College of Pharmacy, University of North Texas, Fort Worth, TX, USA
(3)Vernachio Managed Care Consulting LLC, Canton, GA, USA
(4)Department of Family Medicine, University of North Texas, Fort Worth, TX, USA
(5)College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
(6)Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of North Texas, Fort Worth, TX, USA

OBJECTIVES: Chronic pain is one of the largest health burdens, both personal and financial, in the United States. Approximately 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from persistent pain and the annual economic cost associated with pain is over $500 billion (Nahin, 2015). The Institute of Medicine (2011) identifies effective pain management as an interprofessional responsibility of the healthcare team and essential to patient-centered care. Despite huge strides in understanding the physiological aspects of pain, there is a major gap between that understanding and pain assessment and management. Those who teach on pain topics in schools of nursing, medicine and pharmacy agree that pain is a uniquely individual and subjective experience that depends on a variety of biological, psychological, and social factors. However, there is a lack of agreement on the quantity or scope of pain education topics to be covered within and among healthcare disciplines. The objectives of this study are to (1) explore current practices in pain education within U.S. nursing, medical and pharmacy schools, (2) assess educational gaps, and (3) provide recommendations for pain education.

METHODS: This descriptive cross-sectional study focuses on prelicensure programs in nursing, medicine and pharmacy. A survey, adapted from a list of learning objectives used by Mezei and colleagues (2011) to assess pain curricula at schools in the U.S. and Canada, was developed to determine the scope, quantity, and delivery of pain education. Part one of the survey focuses on general pain education topics and teaching methods used, while part two focuses specifically on opioid education. This two-part survey will be administered using a web-based platform to evaluate the depth and breadth of pain education taught at nursing, medical and pharmacy schools across the nation. School demographic information will also be obtained.

RESULTS: Descriptive statistics will be used to characterize the sample and examine individual survey items. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) will be conducted to examine potential differences between the schools. Qualitative survey data will be content analyzed. Findings will reflect opportunities for improvement in nursing, medical and pharmacy schools' pain curriculums across the United States.

CONCLUSIONS: When designing a pain education curriculum, more emphasis should be placed on patient education, patient empowerment, and interprofessional collaboration. The consensus is that nursing, medical and pharmacy schools in the United States should establish formal integration of pain management education across curricula. This will enable graduating healthcare professionals to be well equipped to improve patient outcomes and reduce this public health crisis.