Stakeholders in the pain community eagerly tuned in to “Implementation of the National Pain Strategy (NPS) Listening Session” on May 11. The daylong event was hosted by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide an update on the NPS, the nation’s first strategic plan for advancing pain management, research and prevention across the country. While the NPS itself has been finalized and is supported by many groups, including U.S. Pain Foundation, the next crucial step is obtaining funding from Congress to implement it.

Here are updates from the May 11 event by topic:

Population Research

  • Michael VonKorff, Chad Helmick and Richard Nahin reported on their relevant work.
  • Two questions about pain were included in the National Health Interview Survey for 2016 & 2017. Once data is tabulated, they will report on it.
  • Another study is using ICD-9 codes and electronic health records to see what pain conditions use the highest amount of opioids.
  • Other work is planning to fill gaps in knowledge about pain epidemiology by using the “All of Us” Program and questions that are part of the Precision Medicine Initiative.

Care and Prevention

  • Rick Ricciardi, Trip Buckenmaier and Elizabeth Kato reported on relevant work.
  • One study sought to understand how widespread the use of the Stepped Care Model of pain care is in the Veterans Administration.
  • Another reported on the use of yoga and other alternative treatments in the military.

Service Delivery & Payment

  • Chris Jones and Cathy Underwood reported on relevant work.
  • Jones reported on a pilot study of three different payers, including a private insurer and public coverage, to determine what pain treatments, including nonpharmacological interventions, are covered.
  • Underwood reported on a Pfizer grant given to the American Pain Society to select three projects for funding: a web-based adolescent chronic pain self-management program; an electronic health records prescription bundle of non-pharmacological strategies for chronic musculoskeletal pain; and, a self-management program for older adults with pain that focuses on regulation of emotions about pain.

Professional Education

  • Scott Fishman, Sharon Hertz and Dave Thomas reported on their work in pain professional education and training.
  • Fishman has led an effort to identify core competencies for pain management professional education. They have been endorsed by a broad range of professional societies. The current effort is to try to include questions directly on these competencies in licensing board examinations.
  • Hertz talked about revisions to the Food & Drug Administration’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy program to broaden the material required to include pain management as well as prescribing of immediate release opioid analgesics.
  • Thomas talked about the Centers of Excellence in Pain Management and pain management interactive multimedia coursework that has been developed.

In addition to the presentations above, six individuals reported on their relevant work in the open session:

  • Myra Christopher on public awareness media effort, called “No Longer Silent”
  • Stephanie Sutherland, a science journalist, on her work
  • Steve Stanos on a study of a Functional Restoration Project that would fall under Care and Prevention and Reimbursement
  • Claudette Powell on a health communication and training tool in the form of an interactive computer–based simulation of caring for patients
  • Sean Mackey about a pain patient registry at Stanford University
  • Bruce Schoneboom from the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) spoke about a 12-month post graduate certificate program AANA is sponsoring

Linda Porter, director of the NIH’s Office of Pain Policy, also announced that the Federal Pain Research Strategy addressing basic biomedical research is almost complete and will be introduced and discussed on June 1 at the NIH Pain Consortium Annual Symposium. A public comment period will be opened up.

For more information about the NPS, visit