Educating Patients and Caregivers About Pain Management: What Clinicians Need to Know
To date, pain has not been broadly recognized as a public health priority. The burden remains on healthcare professionals, patients, and caregivers to educate and advocate for better pain management. The role of patient education has been well established in a variety of chronic conditions, including asthma, diabetes, arthritis, and hypertension. Patient education is also central to improving pain management, though research in this area is minimal. Successful education has been shown to improve outcomes and adherence to treatment protocols, and also improve and enhance patient satisfaction. For this reason, it is important to take the time to help people with pain and their caregivers become educated consumers of pain management and know how to self-advocate. Sadly, too many patients are unprepared. While certain policies, including the Joint Commission’s standards for pain assessment and management, have helped drive pain education and awareness, there is still considerable room for improvement. Because healthcare providers are a leading source of health information for the public – even in this digital age – they should be equipped to serve as health educators and make it a priority. This role should be seen as an integral part of clinical practice, especially as patients increasingly navigate their options for pain care and self-advocate. In this chapter, we explore common myths about pain and the need not only to educate but also to reeducate healthcare professionals, their patients, and the public, highlight common barriers to effective pain management education, and focus on the health information seeking behavior of the public at large and how this can guide educational efforts (e.g., what patients want to know, sources they consult), tools and in-practice and community-based strategies for education, health literacy, and other pitfalls.
KeywordsHealthcare Provider Health Literacy Pain Management Patient Navigator Teachable Moment
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