NEWS | November 14, 2016

UC Davis leads efforts locally and globally to alleviate pain and suffering


Faculty and researchers at UC Davis combine perspectives on pain to change how the phenomenon is alleviated, studied and taught. From the upcoming 2016 Advancing Pain Relief Summit to a recent gathering in Japan of pain experts from around the world, UC Davis drives the discussion aimed at improving quality of life.

“Pain is the most common reason that a person seeks health care and pain represents an incalculable resource burden on our health care system  but  treatment is often inadequate and even unsafe,” said Scott Fishman, director of the UC Davis Center for Advancing Pain Relief. “We must generate new ideas and tap into multiple perspectives to lead a new wave of improved education for people who suffer from pain.”

On Nov. 30, Fishman and leaders from UC Davis Health System, including the Schools of Medicine and Nursing, convene faculty from the UC Davis Schools of Law, Medicine, Nursing and Veterinary Medicine, as well as the Colleges of Biological Sciences, Agriculture, Engineering, and Letters and Sciences to share and showcase their diverse work that contributes to informing and relieving the complex problem of pain.

“With our world-class health and research facilities and a tradition of collaboration, UC Davis is uniquely positioned to lead this effort,” added Heather M. Young, co-director of the center and founding dean of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. “We must galvanize the resources of UC Davis to ensure that the brightest minds, across disciplines and areas of practice, are brought together to combat the crisis of pain management at the highest level, which will then drive how we prepare tomorrow’s clinicians in classrooms today.”

In 2011, Young and Fishman organized a summit of pain experts from across the nation to develop a blueprint for what health science students needed to learn before becoming practitioners. The result: four domains of interprofessional core competencies in pain education. They have since been published in the U.S. and endorsed by many health organizations.

In order to broaden the discussion, in September, Fishman brought together nearly 50 pain experts from 14 countries in Yokohama, Japan, to discuss ways to anchor pain competencies worldwide. Held in conjunction with the International Association for the Study of Pain’s Congress on Pain, the meeting fostered a global discussion about ways to integrate competencies for pain and pain care into the education and training of health care professionals. 

“What we discovered is that although many kinds of curricula, courses and other educational efforts have been developed about pain and pain care, these are not embedded into most education programs,” Fishman said. “We don’t expect to reach consensus on how to teach or exactly what methods we use to reach our goals. But our experience in North America suggests we can reach consensus on the goals themselves.”

Fishman said the meeting brought the conversation about competencies to a global level. In the meantime, he and Young focus on meaningful change within UC Davis to close invisible barriers and synergize efforts in treating pain.

To register for the Nov. 30 symposium, visit the UC Davis Center for Advancing Pain Relief website. Click here to view a video about the Japan summit. For more information on the Center for Advancing Pain Relief, click here.