Pain is by far the leading reason why persons seek medical care, but pain education at North American medical schools is limited, variable, and often fragmentary, according to a Johns Hopkins University study. The findings were published in The Journal of Pain, the official journal of the American Pain Society (APS).
The investigators examined the curricula at 117 medical schools in the United States and Canada. They performed a systematic review to analyze curricular emphasis on various topics, including pediatric and geriatric pain, neuropathic pain, cancer pain, pain neurobiology, and pharmacological pain management.
The results showed that a majority of medical schools are teaching 1 or more core topics in pain, but many schools are not reporting any pain teaching and most others devote less than 5 hours to pain education. Cancer pain, pediatric pain, and geriatric pain are essentially unaddressed by the vast majority of medical schools.
The investigators concluded that their data bring to light glaring discrepancies between the prevalence of pain and the time dedicated to educating future physicians about pain in medical school. They noted that given the dangers of pain undertreatment and the abuse of pain-active medications, pain medicine does not receive the attention it deserves in medical education.
For more information, visit the APS Web site at http://www.ampainsoc.org. Or, contact the organization at American Pain Society, 4700 W Lake Avenue, Glenview, IL 60025; telephone: (847) 375-4715; fax: (866) 574-2654 or (847) 375-6479.