EU doctors not ‘trained for pain’

Despite one in five EU citizens suffering chronic pain, doctors across Europe are woefully under-educated about pain management, according to a major EU survey unveiled at The European Pain Federation (EFIC) Congress, held in Florence, Italy (October 10th).

Dr Emma Briggs, King’s College London lecturer; Chair of the British Pain...
Dr Emma Briggs, King’s College London lecturer; Chair of the British Pain Society Pain Education Special Interest Group

 

The findings, from the APPEAL (Advancing the Provision of Pain Education And Learning) study – the first Europe-wide study on pain education, show an ‘alarming’ lack of dedicated teaching about pain in undergraduate medical schools in Europe, say researchers. Even medical schools with compulsory courses on pain allocate an average of only 12 hours within a six-year degree programme – just 0.2 percent of the medical student teaching time.

According to EFIC President Professor Hans G Kress, from Vienna, Austria), more than 80 million people in Europe suffer from chronic pain – meaning pain that occurs repeatedly over three months or longer. This pain, he said, is currently inadequately treated. ‘More than half of chronic pain patients suffer for two years or more before they receive adequate treatment. Lack of knowledge about pain among physicians has long been recognised as a key barrier to effective pain treatment and management.’

The APPEAL study involved 242 undergraduate medical schools in 15 EU countries and found that 82 percent of these schools have no dedicated courses on pain that are compulsory for all students.

‘With the exception of France and a handful of schools in other countries that have made headway in the provision of pain teaching, there is a striking lack of dedicated teaching on pain across Europe,’ said Dr Emma Briggs, lecturer at King’s College London, and Chair of the British Pain Society Pain Education Special Interest Group. ‘This raises the question as to whether the provision of pain education in undergraduate medical studies is fit for purpose to address the current and growing unmet public health need.’ Based on the findings, the APPEAL researchers say that medical schools and relevant policymakers must ensure that medical undergraduate pain education is fit for purpose. They recommend the introduction of compulsory pain teaching for all EU undergraduate medical students and the establishment of a European framework for pain education, developed jointly by pain specialists and educators and drawing on the EFIC® Core Curriculum in Pain Management, to ensure consistency in pain teaching within the EU.
 
 
 

 

07.11.2013

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