In late January 2016, Pain Medicine published the article “Pain Psychology: A Global Needs Assessment and National Call to Action.”
The article is a report of the national needs for pain psychology services, resources, and education across 6 key stakeholder groups in the U.S.: individuals with chronic pain, psychologist/therapists, pain physicians, primary care physicians and physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and directors of psychology graduate training programs. The study was spearheaded by the American Academy of Pain Medicine‘s Task Force on Pain Psychology (Co-Chairs: Beth Darnall, Ph.D.; Judith Scheman, Ph.D.; and Sean Mackey, MD, Ph.D.). The study involved administering brief surveys to individuals across the 6 stakeholder groups. Almost 2,000 responses were received.
The results speak to the dearth of current pain psychology resources available to individuals with chronic pain. While the United States is amidst a pain crisis and the so-called ‘opioid crisis’, current pain psychology resources are inadequate, and even psychologists and therapists feel ill-prepared to deal directly– and to treat— chronic pain.
It is clear that dealing with both crises will require increased efforts to effectively train generalist therapists with basic pain education and to train others to be pain psychology specialists. Read the full article to learn more about what we feel is needed– as a national first step– to improve access to pain psychology, and to treat the full definition of pain. With 100 million Americans living with some degree of pain, bold actions are necessary to shift the current trajectory and improve the quality of life of millions.