By Dr. Mercola
Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans – that’s more than the number impacted by diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined.1 Most suffering from pain turn to their family physician for help, but many leave the office with nothing more than a prescription for painkillers in hand.
Many physicians simply do not know how to help their patients manage, or eliminate, chronic pain, and this trend is going to continue for the foreseeable future unless a radical change occurs.
As it stands, the APPEAL (Advancing the Provision of Pain Education And Learning) study revealed that new physicians are learning shockingly little about how to treat pain, despite it being one of the most common, and most debilitating, medical conditions around.
Just 12 Hours of Pain Education in Six Years of Medical School
The study, which surveyed undergraduate medical schools in Europe, found that even when compulsory pain courses are in place, they represent just 12 hours of the six-year program – or 0.2 percent.2
Further, most of the schools actually have no required courses on pain that all students must take. This means that 12 hours of pain study represents a best-case scenario; at 82 percent of medical schools without compulsory pain courses, the students may be receiving even less… or no pain training at all.
Even when the pain courses are compulsory, there is no consistency in what topics are covered, and most of the schools included only classroom-based teaching, not practical-based or placement-based teaching that could offer future physicians valuable hands-on experience.
The researchers called for a major overhaul to address the urgent public health need to adequately manage chronic pain, including:
The establishment of a European framework for pain education to ensure consistency in pain teaching
The introduction of compulsory pain teaching for all undergraduate medical students in Europe
Improved documentation of pain teaching within the undergraduate medical curriculum
Pain Education in