NASW attends first pain care policy congress

Jan 30, 2018

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

A key step in implementing solutions for the opioid overdose epidemic was reached in San Diego in October where days later the opioid crisis was officially declared a national public health emergency.

Opioid epidemic and drug abuse conceptSeventy representatives from more than 50 organizations, including NASW, gathered in California for the first ever Integrative Pain Care Policy Congress during the Annual Meeting of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management (AIPM).

Attendees, who represented licensed and certified health care providers, public and private payers, policy advocates, and research organizations, debated and devised a universal definition of comprehensive integrative pain management.

The statement is: “Comprehensive integrative pain management includes biomedical, psychosocial, complementary health, and spiritual care. It is person-centered and focuses on maximizing function and wellness. Care plans are developed through a shared decision-making model that reflects the available evidence regarding optimal clinical practice and the person’s goals and values.”

The Congress was a “giant first step forward,” bringing together diverse participants for the first time to discuss how they can advance integrative pain care, organizers said.

Dr. Soma Wali, representing the American College of Physicians, commented in a press statement that “Advancing evidence-based treatment for pain is a high priority for our organization, and the strength of this collective group was extremely motivating – we all have the same common goal to provide the best care to our patients and to continue to save lives.”

Dr. Clay Jackson, AIPM board president, said participants agreed that “lasting solutions require a culture change and payment reform in health care, with a deeper understanding of the interplay among pain management, behavioral health, and addiction.”

Bob Twillman, executive director of the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, said in the press release that efforts must be made to promote quality care focused on function and wellness, not care guided only by what payers are covering.

“We must continue discussions with payers and researchers to review and enhance the existing evidence in service of expanding payer coverage of safe and effective pain treatments,” he said.

Carrie Dorn, NASW senior practice associate, attended the congress and submitted an NASW statement to attendees.

It noted social workers are a critical part of the integrative services across health care settings and that they practice from a strengths perspective that promotes resilience and self-determination.

It explained that increased opioid abuse and misuse have created barriers to integrative pain care.

“It is germane that policies, regulations, and provider practices be adapted to address opioid misuse,” NASW said.

At the same time, maintaining access to integrative pain care – including, but not limited to, appropriate use of opioids – is essential to the quality of life for individuals, families and communities, NASW stated.

“The continued integration of social workers in health care teams can help to achieve this outcome, and the increased intervention of health social workers to pain care may be one of the positive consequences of the opioid crisis,” the statement says.

More information:

From the January 2018 NASW News.