Research on and treatment for chronic pain has been elevated on the federal policy radar through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and annual appropriations legislation that funds the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A new HHS Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee is being formed.
At the request of Congress and HHS, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is addressing the current state of the science with respect to pain research, care, and education. The IOM has focused specifically on “identifying demographic groups and special populations, including older adults, individuals with co-morbidities, and cognitive impairment, that may be disparately undertreated for pain, and discuss related research needs, barriers particularly associated with these demographic groups, and opportunities to reduce such barriers.” Public meetings held in late 2010 and earlier this year were attended by representatives of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance (formerly the Overlapping Conditions Alliance) and testimony was presented based on recommendations included in the Alliance’s report issued in 2010, “Chronic Pain in Women: Neglect, Dismissal and Discrimination.”
The IOM will release its study of chronic pain on June 29, 2011, at a press event to be held at 11 a.m. at the 20F Conference Center in Washington, D.C. The event will also be webcast live at http://www.nationalacademies.org. The report is embargoed and will not be available to the public before 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday, June 29. Six members of the IOM committee that developed the report will speak about their findings and will respond to questions from reporters and other participants. The report, “Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Treatment, and Research,” will be available at www.iom.edu/relievingpain after the release.
The IOM is part of the United States National Academies, a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization organized under congressional charter. According to Wikipedia, the purpose of the IOM “is to provide national advice on issues relating to biomedical science, medicine, and health, and its mission to serve as adviser to the nation to improve health. It works outside the framework of the U.S. federal government to provide independent guidance and analysis and relies on a volunteer workforce of scientists and other experts, operating under a rigorous, formal peer-review system. The Institute provides unbiased, evidence-based, and authoritative information and advice concerning health and science policy to policy-makers, professionals, leaders in every sector of society, and the public at large.”
On Friday, June 24, 2011, the Campaign to End Women’s Pain hosted a media briefing to provide an update on the state of pain and accomplishments since the Campaign released its ground-breaking report in May 2010. Congressional Quarterly, the most widely read Capitol Hill daily newspaper, reported on the event:
More Federal Action Needed on Chronic Pain in Women, Report Says
By CQ Staff
“A report on chronic pain in women issued Friday recommends that the National Institutes of Health should better coordinate research on pain that disproportionately affects women. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should mount a multi-year campaign to educate providers and the public about chronic pain, and federal agencies involved in pain research should improve their coordination and sharing of resources, the report says. Chronic pain, estimated to affect a quarter of Americans, is defined as pain that lasts for more than six months. It accounts for more than 20 percent of all physician office visits, and is considered a factor in rising health care costs. The Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women says 50 million women suffer from painful conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders and vulvodynia. Women’s pain is often not taken seriously by the medical establishment and patients often must visit multiple providers to get a diagnosis, the report says. The Institute of Medicine is also expected to release a report June 29 on pain care, education and research.”
At least 20 consumer, research, advocacy, professional and industry organizations, including the Solve ME/CFS Initiative , will hold an independent event immediately following the IOM press conference to demonstrate broad support for the release of the IOM report. Together they will send a clear message to our government and the public that pain is a major public health problem that deserves much greater attention and focus. Speaking at the event will be representatives from the Campaign to End Chronic Pain in Women; Judy Foreman, award-winning health writer, Boston Globe columnist and pain sufferer; individuals with 1 or more chronic pain conditions sharing their personal stories; and leaders of major medical and nursing organizations. The event will be held at noon on June 29, 2011, at the 20F Conference Center (same site as the IOM press conference).
Updates on these and other pain-related activities were provided by top leadership staff from the National Institutes of Health at the 6th Scientific Meeting of the TMJ Association held earlier this month. At that meeting, members of the Chronic Pain Research Alliance updated researchers about efforts to advance policy on research for conditions that frequently co-occur (like CFS, FM, TMJ, endometriosis and vulvodynia), including the Alliance’s request for a congressional hearing on pain made on June 6 in anticipation of the IOM’s report.
(Updated June 27, 2011 to reflect additional details about upcoming events and again on July 6, 2011 to add link to IOM Press Conference recording.)June 22, 2011