Here’s what we know:
- Not enough doctors can recognize chronic pain disorders
- Not enough doctors can treat pain – either acute or chronic
- Patients suffer because of this lack of knowledge
A research study by the Internal Medicine Department at NYU looked at how much medical students retain 18 months after having a series of classes on acute, chronic and terminal pain. The 8-hour pain course included information on pain pathophysiology, assessment and treatment, as well as work with simulated patients to let students apply their knowledge in a clinical interaction.
The results showed that after the course:
- 87% (vs 76%) could obtain basic pain symptoms from patients
- 75% (vs 61%) could obtain comprehensive pain symptoms from patients
- students asked more often about how pain impacted a patient’s functioning (41% vs 26%)
- students advised changes to medication (97% vs 39%)
- students provided additional medication counseling (55% vs 27%)
In addition to developing better pain management skills, the researchers concluded that students retained what they learned about pain 18 months later.
Better education is where we have to start to get better recognition and treatment of pain disorders!
The study, Medical students retain pain assessment and management skills long after an experiential curriculum: A controlled study, was published in Pain 2009, Vol 145, Pages 319-324.