Pain is a major health problem. It is estimated that over 100 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain with a projected cost of $560-635 billion annually for medical costs and lost productivity. In response to the chronic pain epidemic, the prescribing of opioids has increased dramatically during the last 20 years. This increase has contributed to the creation of a new public health concern – the misuse of prescription opiates. At the fulcrum of these two health crises are healthcare providers including doctors, dentists, nurses and others who are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of pain. Yet the topics of pain diagnosis and treatment receive relatively little attention in the formal training of most healthcare professionals. The National Institute of Health (NIH) Pain Consortium is helping to address this issue by establishing Centers of Excellence for Pain Education (PCoEs.) These PCoEs will develop and implement curricula to help train healthcare professionals in the diagnosis and management of pain. The anticipated result is that these PCoEs will provide healthcare professionals with educational tools to help prepare them better to diagnose, treat, and manage pain and help them minimize the potential for opioid abuse and addiction.
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