The National Pain Strategy by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines the government’s plan to reduce the chronic pain burden that affects millions of Americans and raises healthcare costs. (More information is available at: http://bit.ly/2S5236e.)

The strategy makes recommendations related to these six areas:

• population research;

• prevention and care;

• disparities;

• service delivery and payment;

• professional education and training;

• public education and communication.

The National Pain Strategy calls for the following actions:

• Healthcare organizations should develop methods and metrics to monitor and improve how pain is prevented and managed.

• Develop a system that incorporates patient-centered integrated pain management practices based on a biopsychosocial model of care that allows access to all pain treatment options.

• Medical providers should take steps to reduce barriers to pain care and to improve the quality of pain care for underserved populations, the vulnerable, and stigmatized.

• The national public health community needs to increase public awareness of pain, increasing patient knowledge of treatment options and risks, and help to develop a healthcare workforce that is better informed about pain management.

Some specific ways to accomplish these goals include the following:

• improve provider education about pain management practices and team-based care that moves away from opioid-centric treatment;

• increase patient access to quality, multidisciplinary care — especially for vulnerable populations — and improve patient self-management strategies;

• ask researchers and experts to evaluate risks and benefits of current pain treatment regimens;

• provide patients with educational tools that encourage safer use of prescription opioids;

• fund research to identify best practices in appropriate pain treatment for individual patients.