Clinical Pain Advisor: The toolkit emphasizes the importance of outreach and community events, as well as advocacy for increased funding for pain research and training of HCPs. Do you believe such grassroots efforts can have a significant impact? 

Penney Cowan: Every voice counts — anyone who does anything is doing a positive thing. Pain itself is often looked at as a secondary issue — what is causing the pain is what is examined. Clinicians often forget about pain. Although categorized by the APS as the fifth vital sign in 1996,2 the American Medical Association dropped this classification of pain in June 2016 in response to the opioid epidemic.

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Clinical Pain Advisor: What are the most critical aspects of this toolkit?   

Penney Cowan: One of the most critical aspects is that it is the result of the collaboration of many different organizations. In addition, the toolkit provides high quality information, accessible to all, thus offering a valuable resource to both patients and providers.

Many years ago, pain management was provided by multidisciplinary programs to which patients had easy access. This aspect of pain management is mostly lost nowadays, and providers are not trained in this discipline. There need to be efforts toward including pain management in medical curricula.

Clinical Pain Advisor: Have you garnered positive feedback from HCPs, patients, or organizations regarding the toolkit?

Penney Cowan: Yes! We have gotten a great deal of positive feedback from all these entities, who find it very helpful, and acknowledge the effort that was put into creating it.

Clinical Pain Advisor: How is the toolkit currently being used? Is it solely aimed at clinical practices, or also at academia?

Penney Cowan: Academics as well as clinicians are using the toolkit. It also provides resources including information regarding research, journals, and pain-related associations.

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Penney Cowan added that the ACPA reviews the information they receive from anyone, so it can be included in the 2017 version if appropriate. Find out more about how this toolkit can help you in the management of your patients here.


  1. The American Chronic Pain Association. Toolkit for healthcare professionals: activities and resources. Accessed January 11, 2017.
  2. American Pain Society. Principles of Analgesic Use in the Treatment of Acute Pain and Cancer Pain. 4. Glenview, IL: American Pain Society; 1999.

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This article originally appeared on Clinical Pain Advisor