Objective: The Institute of Medicine and the draft National Pain Strategy recently called for better training for health care clinicians. This was the first high-level needs assessment for pain psychology services and resources in the United States.
Design: Prospective, observational, cross-sectional.
Methods: Brief surveys were administered online to six stakeholder groups (psychologists/therapists, individuals with chronic pain, pain physicians, primary care physicians/physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and the directors of graduate and postgraduate psychology training programs).
Results: 1,991 responses were received. Results revealed low confidence and low perceived competency to address physical pain among psychologists/therapists, and high levels of interest and need for pain education. We found broad support for pain psychology across stakeholder groups, and global support for a national initiative to increase pain training and competency in U.S. therapists. Among directors of graduate and postgraduate psychology training programs, we found unanimous interest for a no-cost pain psychology curriculum that could be integrated into existing programs. Primary barriers to pain psychology include lack of a system to identify qualified therapists, paucity of therapists with pain training, limited awareness of the psychological treatment modality, and poor insurance coverage.
Conclusions: This report calls for transformation within psychology predoctoral and postdoctoral education and training and psychology continuing education to include and emphasize pain and pain management. A system for certification is needed to facilitate quality control and appropriate reimbursement. There is a need for systems to facilitate identification and access to practicing psychologists and therapists skilled in the treatment of pain.
Keywords: Chronic Pain; Education; Pain Management; Pain Training Programs; Psychology.
© 2016 American Academy of Pain Medicine.