Managing Patients With Chronic Pain: A Resources Toolkit

puzzle pieces illustrating pain relief
puzzle pieces illustrating pain relief
An interview with Penney Cowan, founder and chief executive officer of the American Chronic Pain Association, where she discusses the ACPA's publication aimed at helping healthcare practitioners improve care of patients with chronic pain.

The Toolkit for Healthcare Professionals was recently published by the Partners for Understanding Pain, a partnership initiated by the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA).1 This document aims to provide healthcare practitioners (HCPs) with resources to improve the care of their patients with pain.

Clinical Pain Advisor interviewed Penney Cowan, founder and chief executive officer of the American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA), to learn more about the importance of this resource for HCPs.

Clinical Pain Advisor: How does the toolkit fill the gap for HCPs when it comes to managing chronic pain? What is its main value?

Penney Cowan: The toolkit is a repository for quality, easy-to-access information that is available free of charge to everyone. The ACPA has been around for 37 years, and the organization is careful to provide accurate information to HCPs so that they do not have to sift through the massive amount of information out there and figure out which sources are reliable.

Clinical Pain Advisor: What was the impetus for the development of this resource? How did you come up with the concept, and were there difficulties getting it off the ground?

Penney Cowan: The current toolkit is not the first edition — it was established in September 2001 for the ACPA’s initial Pain Awareness Month — and the ACPA drove the initiative for the first 6 years, which was initially called “Partners for Understanding Pain.”


During the second year of the initiative, Ms. Cowan and her colleagues had face-to-face meetings at the American Pain Society’s (APS) annual meeting, during which they sat down with clinicians to talk about a toolkit that would gather all available information regarding the management of chronic pain in one place.

As a result of these conversations, a form was developed and sent out. The first year, the 200-page resource was aimed at nurses, and was in the form of hard copies and CDs containing all information — 1700 printouts were distributed.

The following year, the toolkit was targeted at pharmacists, and also included a “care card,” providing advice on how to communicate with patients. The goal was to drive people back to the pharmacy. This version was continually updated for a number of years.

Penney Cowan decided to involve herself in education initiatives for pain, but in 2016 re-engaged with the toolkit. In her absence, many of the partners that had been involved in putting this resource together had moved on. She had to gather the information again to create the current edition of the toolkit.

This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor