Pain is one of the most pervasive symptoms associated with cancer. Many patients, regardless of diagnosis, will suffer from pain-related symptoms during their treatment. The lucky ones will only face acute attacks through their cancer journey, but many patients are simply not that fortunate and will be left with lasting, chronic pain.

In March 2016, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the creation of a National Pain Strategy. It’s the first government coordinated effort for reducing the burden of pain that afflicts millions of Americans. 

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine, now known as the Health and Medicine Division, identified a public health problem of pain in the United States. This report called for a national coordinated effort to change the way our nation understands and manages the treatment of pain and prevention. HHS responded to this task by bringing together government agencies, scientists, and patient advocacy groups to work together developing the National Pain Strategy. 

The National Pain Strategy makes recommendations in six areas, including population research; prevention and care; disparities; service delivery and payment; professional education and training; and public education and communication. 

It also calls for a number of new interventions, procedures, and programs to:

  • Develop methods and metrics to monitor and improve the prevention and management of pain.
  • Support the development of a system of patient-centered integrated pain management practices based on a biopsychosocial model of care that enables providers and patients to access the full spectrum of pain treatment options.
  • Take steps to reduce the barriers to pain care and improve the quality of pain care for vulnerable, stigmatized, and underserved populations.
  • Increase the public awareness of pain, increasing patient knowledge of treatment options and risks, and help to develop a better informed healthcare workforce with regard to pain management. 

Sign the Petition, Make the Change

Currently, there is a White House petition that calls for the implementation the National Pain Strategy. The petition is open for 30 days, from July 13 to August 12, and needs 100,000 signatures to reach the president’s desk. 

Oncology nurses know the challenges facing patients with cancer and have the unique opportunity to help mitigate the suffering of pain associated with cancer. By signing this petition, you can engender real change in your practice, while also creating a better care environment for your patients. Add your name to the growing list of healthcare professionals in support of the National Pain Strategy.