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The Role of Nonpharmacological Approaches to Pain Management: A Workshop

Date: December 4, 2018 - 08:00 a.m. ET to December 5, 2018 5:00 p.m. ET

National Academy of Sciences Building (125), 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C.

Event Description

Pain is a leading cause of disability in the United States. Given the complexity and biobehavioral nature of pain, the 2011 Institute of Medicine report on Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research advocated for multifaceted approaches for pain management comprised of both pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies. In 2017, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's report Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic: Balancing Societal and Individual Benefits and Risks of Prescription Opioid Usereviewed the status of available evidence on nonpharmacological therapies for managing chronic pain. For example, CBT, a type of psychotherapy focused on restructuring negative thoughts and experiences with positive expectations, has been shown to be effective in reducing pain intensity and other psychological effects caused by pain (e.g., anxiety and depression) for low back pain, headaches, arthritis, orofacial pain, and fibromyalgia. 

As a result of this national push toward the use of nonpharmacological therapies for chronic pain, increased health professionals' education and training will be needed to encourage the adoption and appropriate use of the evidence-based approaches. In addition, addressing policy barriers, such as those related to reimbursement for these treatments will be important to enable broader use and dissemination. Given the changing landscape for pain management, the Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders and the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education will bring together key stakeholders to discuss these treatments and integrative health models for pain management.


Workshop Objectives:

Review the current state of evidence on the effectiveness of nonpharmacological treatments and integrative health models for pain management, as well as available evidence on use patterns and patient interest. Examples may include acupuncture, manual therapies, physical therapy and exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy, tai chi, yoga, meditation, and neurostimulation.

Consider multimodal approaches and potential synergies between pharmacological and nonpharmacological approaches to pain management.

Consider multimodal approaches and potential synergies between devices and nonpharmacological approaches to pain management.

Discuss research gaps and key questions for further research.

Examine health professions' current approaches for educating students, trainees, and practicing clinicians on nonpharmacological pain management, and discuss potential next steps to improve training and education within and across health professions.

Explore policies, such as those related to reimbursement, that would enable broader dissemination and implementation of evidence-based nonpharmacological treatments when appropriate.


More information is available from the National Academies of Sciences.