Pain Education in Canada: Vets get over 3 times more training than other Health Sciences grads, including doctors & nurses

    New study shows Veterinary Medicine grads get on average over 3 times
    more specific education time in pain than other Health Sciences students

    TORONTO, Nov. 4 /CNW/ - Canadian graduates in Medicine, Dentistry,
Nursing, Pharmacy and other healthcare professions lag badly behind Veterinary
Medicine graduates in the amount of designated training hours they receive on
pain, a new survey commissioned by the Canadian Pain Society has found.
Veterinary medicine students received an average of 98 hours of designated
pain education, with specific teaching ranging between 27 to 200 hours. In
contrast, medical schools for example identified an average of 16 hours,
ranging from zero (where the respondent couldn't identify any specific
training on the subject) to 38 hours, and nursing programs averaged 31 hours,
ranging from zero to 109 hours.
    "We have previously received considerable anecdotal information that most
health sciences students receive poor and inconsistent training about the
subject of pain, leaving most healthcare practitioners poorly equipped to
treat pain problems," said Dr. Barry Sessle, President of the Canadian Pain
Society. "But this study provides clear-cut evidence of this and shows that
overall, Health Science Faculties need to do much better to properly and
consistently educate our graduates. Only then will they be equipped to meet
the needs of Canadians, who quite reasonably expect our healthcare system to
treat them at least as well as our four-legged friends."
    Dr. Sessle went on to say: "This poor level of education in pain just
compounds the crisis of undertreated pain in Canada. Prior studies have shown
us that acute pain is not well managed, and that 1 in 4 Canadians suffer from
chronic pain, and yet access to effective treatment for chronic pain is poor,
with many chronic pain patients in Canada having to wait years before they can
be seen at a proper pain treatment program."
    The survey collected data from 41 programs at 10 major universities
across Canada, representing 7 of 8 provinces with medical schools, and an
overall high (79%) response rate. Respondents from the universities provided
breakdowns of any specific pain training by year, subject area, and whether it
was mandatory or elective.
    "We noted with some concern that a full two-thirds of respondents were
unable to specify any designated hours on pain, either in the course or
clinical conferences," said Dr. Judy Watt-Watson, Professor at the University
of Toronto's Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, and principal
investigator for the study. "While 90% of health sciences and all veterinary
programs professed to include 'formal' pain content in their curricula, the
fact that this training wasn't quantifiable suggests that pain training may
simply not be a priority in the great majority of the Health Science
Faculties. This is supported by the fact that many respondents also expressed
a need for pain-related curriculum resources."
    Said Dr. Watt-Watson: "Overall, this study tells us that there is a dire
need to address pain management in our health sciences curricula. We need to
make a deliberate and concerted effort to ensure our future healthcare
professionals are fully and consistently educated. Only then will they be able
to meet the pain management needs of Canada's population."
    An executive summary and copy of the full report can be found at is a new campaign supported by the
Canadian Pain Society, Canadian Pain Coalition, the Canadian Pain Foundation
and other partner groups, companies and individuals. The campaign seeks to
raise awareness and promote better prevention and management of all types of
pain in Canada.

    The Canadian Pain Society represents Canadian health professionals,
scientists and others dedicated to improving understanding, treatment and
education about pain issues and management practices in Canada.

    Aussi disponisble en francais.

For further information:

For further information: Dr. Barry Sessle, President, Canadian Pain
Society, (905) 668-9545 or; Dr. Judy
Watt-Watson, Professor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing, University
of Toronto, (416) 978-2850 or; Ingrid Thompson,
Campaign Coordinator, (416) 792-0431 or

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