Despite the fact an estimated 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain costing approximately $640 billion annually in medical expenses and lost productivity, the disease remains widely under treated. This is all the more true for ethnic and racial minorities independent of age, gender, education, wealth and pain intensity. Despite recent efforts by the Institute of Medicine, the DHHS, i.e., its 2016 "National Pain Strategy," and new payment models designed to improve care quality, for example, Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical Homes, under treatment persists. Addressing the problem has become all the more difficult over approximately the past decade due to the opioid epidemic that has blurred, if not erased, the line between effective treatment and drug abuse. We face the nearly impossible situation where Americans are simultaneously under treated and over medicated.
During this 29-minute conversation Ms. Christopher discusses why chronic pain continues to be under treated, to what extent, if any, chronic pain measurement and data collection has improved, the work of the Center for Practical Bioethics' PAINS Project and the extent to which the opioid epidemic is undermining chronic pain treatment.
Ms. Myra Christopher is currently the Director of the PAINS Project and as well the Kathleen M. Foley Chair at the Center for Practical Bioethics. She served as President and CEO of the Center from its inception in 1985 through 2011. From 1998 through 2003 she served as National Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's National Program Office for State-Based Initiatives to Improve End-of-Life Care. She has consulted with numerous organizations including the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, at CMS in developing the Community State Partnerships to Improve End-of-Life Care initiative, participated in drafting the IOM's 2011 "Relieving Pain in America" report discussed during this interview, as a reviewer on the IOM's 2014 report, "Dying in America" and the DHHS committee that produced the "National Pain Strategy." She has also consulted with the CDC, AARP and other organizations to promote pain and palliative care as public health issues. She is s a founding member of the Coalition to Transform Advanced Illness (CTAC), has served on numerous boards including the Duke University Institute for Care ad the End of Life and has received as well numerous awards including the American Society for Bioethics + Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award in Bioethics.
For more information on the PAINS Project go to: http://painsproject.org/
The IOM's "Relieving Pain In America" is at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22553896.
The DHHS' "National Pain Strategy" is at: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/about-ash/news/2016/national-pain-strategy-outlines-actions-improving-pain-care/index.html.