Advancing a National Pain Strategy

18PAINS’ origins are deeply rooted in the Institute of Medicine’s report, Relieving Pain in America. Recommendation 2.2 called on HHS to create a comprehensive population-level strategy for pain prevention, treatment, management, and research. This recommendation was determined to be its highest priority.  The brief that accompanied publication of the report stated that all other recommended actions must build on this plan and encouraged its completion by the end of 2012.  At PAINS organizational meeting in August 2011, those present completed a strategic planning process which prioritized advocating for the development of a national population health strategy for chronic pain as our highest priority.

Although that timeline was not met, with persistent advocacy by PAINS and many other national organizations, in October 2012, Dr. Howard Koh, Under-Secretary of HHS, instructed the NIH Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) to develop a national pain strategy. Myra Christopher, PAINS Director, is a member of the IPRCC and quickly volunteered to serve on the National Pain Strategy Task Force’s (NPSTF) Oversight Committee which is co-chaired by Drs. Linda Porter (NIH) and Sean Mackey (Stanford Medical School).  

Six work groups were established:  1) Professional Education and Training 2) Public Education and Communication 3) Public Health Disparities 4) Public Health: Prevention and Care 5) Public Health: Service Delivery and Reimbursement and 6) Population Research. Eighty experts have volunteered their time to populate these workgroups, and PAINS participants serve on each of the committees.  The NPSTF’s draft report will be completed in the late spring or early summer.  Following review by HHS staff, public commentary will be solicited through the Federal Register.  That input will be incorporated into the report as appropriate, and the final report is currently scheduled to be released in September, 2014.

PAINS is excited about this report and intends to exert significant effort to disseminate and support it, as well as facilitate the development public private partnerships to advance it. To that end, PAINS will convene a national meeting in the DC area in 2015, with people living with chronic pain and their family members, leaders from federal agencies, academic institutions, professional societies, advocacy groups, policy organizations, and others. More details will be available soon.