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News&Review No.3

September 2010 l ISSUE NO 3 11 NEWS & REVIEWS Dr Gerhard H.H. Müller-Schwefe COMMON UNDERSTANDING IS THE BASIS FOR ADEQUATE PAIN MANAGEMENT One of the main reasons for inade- quate pain control in chronic pain patients can be poor understanding of the physician with regard to the patient’s situation1. This is usually caused by poor communication between physicians and patients. Pa- tients may be reluctant to report pain due to low expectations of obtaining effective analgesia or they may fear drug-related adverse events2. Careful patient assessment and the definition of individual treatment tar- gets will lead to effective pain man- agement3 and at the same time will build up mutual trust and respect between patients and physicians.To achieve this, physicians require a good understanding of their pa- tients’ level of pain and its effect on quality of life. There are various methods of measuring pain levels in patients but since these are usually time consuming and subjective they are rarely used in daily practice.This has been confirmed by the results of an electronic poll at the CHANGE PAIN Expert Summit: about 42% of the participants thought that pain scales are used in less than 30% of patients while roughly 30% thought they were used in less than 10%. According to the majority of the participants (71.3%) pain question- naires are used by less than 10% of patients. To help improve physician-patient communication the International CHANGE PAIN Advisory Panel has devised the CHANGE PAIN Scale. This is a new user-friendly commu- nication tool aimed at assessing pain via a more holistic approach, taking into account patient's expec- tations on pain relief and quality of life improvement. This information will help the physician to choose the right therapy for the individual patient. In addition it can help to COMMENTARY Dr Gerhard H.H. Müller-Schwefe, President of the German Association for Pain Therapy (DGS), Germany Good communication skills and a thorough know- ledge of pain management are essential in order to choose the appropriate treatment for a particular patient. The use of instruments such as the CHANGE PAIN Scale and the PAIN EDUCATION programme will im- prove the physician’s assessment and understanding of patients’ needs, leading to a better management of patients’ expectations and to im- proved treatment results.The CHANGE PAIN Expert Summit was an ex- cellent opportunity to share these tools and to confirm the importance of improving pain management. establish treatment goals and to monitor progress. For more information about the CHANGE PAIN Scale visit the website www.change-pain.com. References 1. Müller-Schwefe GHH, Ueberall MA. Pain Inten- sity of Patients with Chronic Low-Back Pain-In- duced Restrictions to follow Standardized Rehabilitation Programs are Frequently Underes- timated by Physicians and Physiotherapists – Re- sults of a Prospective German Quality Assurance Program, WIP Poster 2, Proceedings of WIP Con- ference, 2004. 2. Glajchen M. Chronic pain: treatment barriers and strategies for clinical practice. J Am Board Fam Pract, 2001, 14:211–218. 3. Ueberall MA, Müller-Schwefe GHH. Individual TreatmentTargets in Chronic Pain Management, Proceedings of EFIC, 2006, Istanbul.