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NIH targets safe pain treatment education

June 04, 2012

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

Bethesda, Md.—With an eye toward improving how health professionals learn about pain and its treatment, the National Institutes of Health Pain Consortium May 21 designated 11 health professional schools as Centers of Excellence in Pain Education.

The centers will act as hubs for the development, evaluation and distribution of pain management curriculum resources for dental, medical, nursing and pharmacy schools to enhance how health professionals are taught about treating pain.

Academic centers submitted proposals to the NIH Pain Consortium. Those receiving awards are the University of Washington, Seattle; the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia; Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville; the University of Rochester, N.Y.; the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston; the University of Alabama at Birmingham; the Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine, Philadelphia; the University of California, San Francisco; the University of Maryland, Baltimore; and the University of Pittsburgh.

According to NIH, chronic pain affects approximately 100 million Americans, costing up to $635 billion in medical treatment and lost productivity, and producing immeasurable suffering for people of every age. Yet, pain treatment is not taught extensively in many health professional schools, and clinical approaches can be inconsistent.

The curricula developed by CoEPEs will advance the assessment, diagnosis and safe treatment of a wide variety of pain conditions while minimizing the abuse of opioid pain relievers, said NIH. Types of pain of particular interest to the NIH Pain Consortium are rehabilitation pain, arthritis and musculoskeletal pain, neuropathic pain, and headache pain.

NIH established the Pain Consortium to enhance pain research and promote collaboration among researchers across the many NIH Institutes and centers that have programs and activities addressing pain. For more information, visit

The ADA is offering a webinar on treating patients on long-term opioid therapy on June 27 at 6 p.m. Central Daylight Time. “Chronic Opioid Therapy in Dentistry” is presented by Dr. Jeffrey Crandall.

The webinar comes from a sub-award the ADA received from the American Academy of Addictive Psychiatry from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, which received a three-year grant to create webinars and training on treating pain and opioid addiction. To register for the webinar, contact Alison Siwek, ADA manager of dentist health and wellness, at