OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU pharmacist leading efforts for pain awareness and action

05/11/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Millions of Americans and thousands of Oregonians receive inadequate treatment for chronic pain, and a new initiative may help address that.

Kathryn Hahn, an affiliate faculty member in the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University and chair of the Oregon Pain Management Commission, is leading new efforts to raise awareness of pain management issues and promote advocacy actions in Oregon.

Hahn recently attended the American Pain Foundation Action Network Advocacy Summit in Minnesota, and plans to lead an “action network” effort to promote pain awareness, serve as a liasion with local pain management organizations, and help build a large consumer network to improve pain management. Work with the news media, community presentations and meetings with policy makers are anticipated.

“There is a continuing need for increased pain management awareness and mobilization in Oregon,” said Hahn, a practicing pharmacist who also teaches on this topic at OSU. “Despite advances in policy and treatment, many Oregon residents are left to suffer, and we can change that. People with pain have a right to timely and appropriate pain care.”

About 26 percent of Americans report issues with pain that lasts for more than 24 hours, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This could translate into approximately 941,000 people in Oregon with these problems, Hahn said, and it’s the number one reason people seek medical care.

A new law, the National Pain Care Policy Act, was part of recent health care reform, and aims to improve training for health care professionals, increase research funding for pain and improve access to pain care.

According to Hahn, problems with prescription drug abuse, lack of adequate training for doctors, and other issues have come together to create a crisis in pain management in America today. Many doctors are reluctant to work with patients who have chronic pain, and as a result many pain issues are undertreated. The full range of pain treatment options, of which prescription drugs are just one part, are too often unexplored.

The goal of the new action network, Hahn said, is to involve millions of people with this problem; raise public awareness; promote favorable policies and legislation; and build a national movement called “Conquering Pain Together.”

Anyone interested in participating in or learning about pain care advocacy can find more information at the American Pain Foundation Action Network web site, www.APFActionNetwork.org.