Pain Psychology Boldly Takes A Seat At The Table

AN HISTORIC MOMENT FOR PAIN PSYCHOLOGY    

Pain Psychology made history this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) in Palm Springs, CA. The inaugural AAPM Pain Psychology Shared Interest Group (SIG) meeting took place with strong support from the AAPM leadership, including immediate past President Bill McCarberg, MD, and the 2016 AAPM President Dan Carr, MD. The Pain Psychology SIG is co-chaired by myself, Dr. Judith Scheman and Dr. Sean Mackey (Past President of AAPM). 

BROAD ACADEMY SUPPORT FOR PAIN PSYCHOLOGY

The initiation of the Pain Psychology SIG dovetails with the 2015 formation of the AAPM Pain Psychology Task Force and signals that the Academy embraces psychology and behavioral medicine, and is showing their support by providing us a place to call home. The Pain Psychology SIG provides the essential platform to begin efforts that will help address gaps in pain education and critical barriers to access for pain psychology services in the U.S.

PAIN PSYCHOLOGY NATIONAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT     

A few weeks ago I blogged about the findings from the AAPM Pain Psychology Task Force's national needs assessment for pain psychology services, resources and training. Roughly 2,000 individuals across 6 key stakeholder groups were surveyed by the task force, and their data are described in the report (free download here).

The report is boiled down thusly: We need better pain training for therapists and psychologists, and individuals with chronic pain need better access to high-quality pain psychology services and resources. This latter issues involves being able to locate qualified therapists and ensuring that insurance covers the services of qualified therapists. Right now, all of these issues stand as barriers to pain psychology care. In order to change the landscape of chronic pain treatment, we need solutions that involve education and policy changes. The AAPM Pain Psychology SIG provides the critical platform to begin this important work.

LEADERSHIP SUPPORT    

We were fortunate enough to be supported by the Editor-in-Chief of Pain Medicine, Dr. Rollin (Mac) Gallagher, who wrote an accompanying editorial that highlights the work of the AAPM Pain Psychology Task Force and the results of the national needs assessment. The editorial acknowledges the integral, bedrock role of psychology in the experience and treatment of pain and calls for greater inclusion of the discipline in the treatment field. (Read more here).

PAIN PSYCHOLOGY IN THE NEWS     

Lastly, pain psychology and the efforts of the AAPM Pain Psychology Task Force are hot topics! We received press from Clinical Pain Advisor and Psychiatry Advisor, both may be viewed here:

AAPM Task Force: Enhanced Pain Psychology Training Needed for Psychologists

Task Force: Pain Psychology Training Needed for Psychologists

It's an exciting time for psychology and the field of pain medicine. Stay tuned for further developments on pain psychology from within AAPM and beyond. Much more to come!