Pain Management Task Force Issues Final Report on Best Practices for Treatment of Pain

The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force, a federal advisory committee established by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 – PDF, today released its final report on acute and chronic pain management best practices, calling for a balanced, individualized, patient-centered approach.

To ensure best practices for the treatment of pain, the Task Force final report underscores the need to address stigma, risk assessment, access to care and education. It also highlights five broad categories for pain treatment: medications, interventional procedures, restorative therapies, behavioral health, and complementary and integrative health approaches.

“There is a no one-size-fits-all approach when treating and managing patients with painful conditions,” said Vanila M. Singh, M.D., MACM, Task Force chair, and chief medical officer of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health. “Individuals who live with pain are suffering and need compassionate, individualized and effective approaches to improving pain and clinical outcomes. This report is a roadmap that is desperately needed to treat our nation’s pain crisis.”

The Task Force was created in the midst of a national opioid epidemic, but also at a time when an estimated 50 million adults in the United States experience chronic daily pain. As such, the report emphasizes safe opioid stewardship by recommending more time for history-taking, screening tools, lab tests, and clinician time with patients to establish a therapeutic alliance and to set clear goals for improved functionality, quality of life, and activities of daily living.  Medication disposal and safe medication storage are also emphasized for patient safety.

The report includes a section highlighting disparities and unique challenges faced by special populations, including veterans, active military, women, youth, older adults, American Indians and Alaska Natives, cancer patients and those in palliative care, and patients with sickle cell disease and other chronic, relapsing painful conditions.

The Task Force has 29 members, representing federal and non-federal entities with diverse disciplines and views. It is overseen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the U.S. Department of Defense. The Task Force members have significant public- and private-sector experience across disciplines, including pain management, patient advocacy, substance use disorders, mental health, veteran health, and minority health.