Department of Health and Human Services to develop strategy on pain management

August 1, 2011

Meeting the challenge of relieving chronic pain in America will require a cultural transformation in the way pain is perceived and managed on personal and social levels, according to an IOM report.

Meeting the challenge of relieving chronic pain in America will require a cultural transformation in the way pain is perceived and managed on personal and societal levels, according to a report issued by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The IOM is a private, nonprofit organization that is called on frequently to give advice to the federal government and the public. It most often gathers groups of experts to do so. The report, Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research, was requested by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as a requirement of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to examine pain as a public health problem.

The IOM has asked HHS to develop a comprehensive, population health-level strategy on pain by the end of 2012 to include specific goals, actions, time frames, and resources.

Among other things, the report says that responses to pain are learned in childhood and that childhood pain may contribute to disease conditions in adulthood. However, information on childhood pain is limited because research on that age group focuses on just a few disease populations.

The report points to children as one of the groups in which pain is more prevalent and less likely to be adequately treated. That is sometimes because the underlying condition is not diagnosed.