CMS’s Chronic Pain Experience Journey Map Will Help Patients and Providers

June 15, 2022 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

Highlighting the most prominent barriers that people accessing care face and the influencers acting on providers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) unveiled in May Chronic Pain Experience Journey Map. The map came out of the work done under the 2019 Chronic Pain Stakeholder Engagement initiative to explore the serious role chronic pain has in patients’ lives.  

Inspired by the CMS Behavioral Health Strategy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Overdose Prevention Strategy, and treatment provisions of the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act of 2018 (the SUPPORT Act), CMS collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create the map. 

“We used qualitative research methods and the human-centered design process to understand and visualize the customer experiences living with, providing care for, and treating people with chronic pain,” CMS said

The map begins with a patient and provider discussing the patient’s care plan, then showcases the challenges that the patient might face in receiving complementary and integrative care. Some of those barriers include work and day-to-day tasks, mental health, the patient and their family members or caregivers feeling lost, and insufficient insurance coverage. The map not only helps patients but can also be a great reference for healthcare professionals as they manage care and understand what their patient is facing.  

The illustration is “derived from stakeholder interviews focusing on the experiences of those living with and treating chronic pain.” 

Chronic pain regularly affects patients with cancer yet is still a generally misunderstood medical challenge. Preventing cancer pain and providing culturally relevant and sensitive pain assessment, education, and management are essential oncology nursing responsibilities in the delivery of high-quality care throughout all phases of the cancer continuum, and the map is another tool that oncology nurses can use in their practice. 


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